Tag Archives: gun violence prevention

Reactions, Next Steps After Supreme Court Extremists Strike Down State’s Concealed Carry Restriction

New York Attorney General Leticia James and New York City Mayor Eric Adams join March Against Gun Violence: Policy & Action Over Thoughts & Prayers protest.New York Governor Kathy Hochul and NYC Mayor Adams are reacting to the Supreme Court decision striking down the state’s conceal carry permit regulation © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, news-photos-features.com

The statement by Clarence Thomas’ majority opinion justifying striking down New York State’s sensible qualifications to obtain a concealed carry gun permit saying regulation must conform with “history” – as if the 1791 technology of muskets and a ball were still the norm instead of high-tech assault weapons made for war that pulverize, vaporize human body – rather than common sense restrictions that go back more than 100 years, means that all of us must live in terror that an altercation, road rage, misunderstanding or a suicidal meltdown will lead to murder or massacre. The Supreme Court has basically given its blessing to gun violence as political weapon of intimidation – threatening poll workers, election workers, voters, elected officials. Imagine Trump or DeSantis thugs, strapped with AR15s blocking access to a polling place, or protesting in front of a home of a Secretary of State or House member of the January 6 committee (but certainly not the Supreme Court justices’ homes).

The Supreme Court has proved itself to be a political actor with a Christo Fascist ideological agenda – overturning state’s rights to protect citizens against guns and epidemic while insisting on state’s right to overturn a woman’s federal, Constitutional right to Equal Protection or equal citizenship. The court has lost all legitimacy or credibility – with three justices illegally placed on the court by an illegitimate president using anti-constitutional means by the Republican Senate Majority Leader, and a fourth corrupt justice, Clarence Thomas who should be impeached.

So short of disregarding the court’s radical extremist majority altogether, states should follow the “founders’” 1791 language to the letter. This is what states and municipalities should do to protect citizens from the epidemic of gun violence:

All gun owners should be required to enlist in a well-regulated militia, be required to go for regular training, be registered, licensed every five years, and be prepared to defend the state.

Also: impose tax on guns, ammunition to support a Victims Fund. Require gun owners to have liability insurance.

Following the tactic used by anti-choice activists, restrict all gun sales to licensed gun sellers, who are restricted where and when they can operate, and who are held liable if they sell a gun to someone who failed background check or if the gun is used in crime. Outlaw online and private sales. Restrict what kinds of guns and ammunition can be sold.

Require gun manufacturers to use SMART ID so only the registered, licensed, trained gun owner can operate the gun; require microstamping so that ammunition used in crime can be traced back. Make gun manufacturers liable when their guns are used in crimes, mass shooting. Restrict advertising (as is done for tobacco sales).

Here are the statements from New York State Governor Kathy Hochul, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, and President Joe Biden:

Governor Hochul: “As Governor of the State of New York, my number one priority is to keep New Yorkers safe, but today the Supreme Court is sending us backwards in our efforts to protect families and prevent gun violence.”

Hochul: “I’m prepared to call the legislature back into session to deal with this. We’ve been in contact with the leadership. We’re just looking at dates. Everyone wants a little bit of time to digest this, but I will say we are not powerless in this situation. We’re not going to cede our rights that easily. Despite the best efforts of the politicized Supreme Court of the United States of America, we have the power of the pen.”

We just received some very disturbing news from Washington; that the Supreme Court of the United States of America has stripped away the state of New York’s right and responsibility to protect its citizens with a decision – which we are still digesting – which is frightful in its scope of how they are setting back this nation and our ability to protect our citizens back to the days of our founding fathers. And the language we’re reading is shocking.

As Governor of the State of New York, my number one priority is to keep New Yorkers safe, but today the Supreme Court is sending us backwards in our efforts to protect families and prevent gun violence. And it’s particularly painful that this came down at this moment. We are still dealing with families in pain from mass shootings that have occurred; the loss of life of their beloved children and grandchildren.

Today, the Supreme Court struck down a New York law that limits who can carry concealed weapons. Does everyone understand what a concealed weapon means? That you have no forewarning that someone can hide a weapon on them and go into our subways, go into our grocery stores like stores up in Buffalo, New York, where I’m from, go into a school in Parkland or Uvalde.

This could place millions of New Yorkers in harm’s way. And this is at a time when we’re still mourning the loss of lives, as I just mentioned. This decision, isn’t just reckless, it’s reprehensible. It’s not what New Yorkers want. We should have the right of determination of what we want to do in terms of our gun laws in our state.

If the federal government will not have sweeping laws to protect us, then our states and our governors have a moral responsibility to do what we can and have laws that protect our citizens because of what is going on – the insanity of the gun culture that has now possessed everyone all the way up to even to the Supreme Court.

The law we’re talking about has been in place since the early 1900s. And now to have our ability to determine who is eligible for a concealed carry permit – this is not an ordinary permit. This is a special use that you can hide it from people. We have limitations, if it’s for a proper cause, someone who’s been threatened, someone who needs it for their job as a security guard. We have classifications where it is allowed and has been allowed for over a hundred years.

We do not need people entering our subways, our restaurants, our movie theaters with concealed weapons. We don’t need more guns on our streets. We’re already dealing with a major gun violence crisis. We don’t need to add more fuel to this fire.

But I will tell New Yorkers, we’ve been ready for this. We feared this day would come and it came. At this very moment when we are about to sign a law into place, the origins of which was a loss of a 14 year old child, Alyssa, in her school.

The confluence of these two events is shocking. But again, I’m going to reassure this state. We are reading the language as we speak. We’ve been preparing, but we have been working with a team of experts, legal experts from all over this country and organizations like Everytown, true leaders, to make sure that we are prepared.

I’m prepared to call the legislature back into session to deal with this. We’ve been in contact with the leadership. We’re just looking at dates. Everyone wants a little bit of time to digest this, but I will say we are not powerless in this situation. We’re not going to cede our rights that easily. Despite the best efforts of the politicized Supreme Court of the United States of America, we have the power of the pen.

And I just want to read some language here. Apparently, the Supreme Court has now decided with this far reaching decision that the two step standard that had been in place since Heller [and] McDonald, where they analyze the Second Amendment, where it combines history. We have a history, yes we do, but also means and scrutiny. Does the means of the restriction justify the infringement.

And most people would say, yes, we have a right to protect people from gun violence. But I’ll simply say in our very quick analysis because this is only minutes old, they have now said that the government must demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with this nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.

That’s it. No longer can we strike the balance. Only if a firearm regulation is consistent with this nation’s historical tradition may a court conclude that the individual’s conduct falls outside the Second Amendment’s unqualified command.

Shocking, absolutely shocking that they have taken away our right to have reasonable restrictions. We can have restrictions on speech. You can’t yell fire in a crowded theater, but somehow there’s no restrictions allowed on the second amendment.

This is New York. We don’t back down, we fight back. And we’ll be alerting the public, the media in the very short term of exactly what our language is that we’ve been analyzing. We have language we’d like to now enact into law. We’ll be sharing that with the leaders.

And I’m sorry this dark day has come. That we’re supposed to go back to what was in place since 1788 when the Constitution of United States America was ratified. And I would like to point out to the Supreme Court justices that the only weapons at that time were muskets. I’m prepared to go back to muskets.

I don’t think they envision the high capacity assault weapon magazines intended for battlefields as being covered from this, but I guess we’re just going to have to disagree.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams: This decision has made every single one of us less safe from gun violence.

This decision has made every single one of us less safe from gun violence. It ignores the shocking crisis of gun violence every day, engulfing not only New York, but entire country.

To base this decision on “historical past” that does not account for the reality of today, ignores the present and endangers our future.

While nothing changes today, we have been preparing for this decision and will continue to do everything possible to work with fed, state, local partners to protect city. We will collaborate with other mayors, municipality leaders, leave no stone unturned, as we seek to undue and mitigate the damage today.

We are undertaking a comprehensive review with counsel, legal experts, as we start to define sensitive locations where carrying gun is banned and reviewing application process to insure only those fully qualified can obtain carry license.

We cannot allow New York to become the wild wild west. That’s unacceptable. We will not allow our city to live in fear that everyone around is armed, and any altercation could evolve into shootout. We will not allow our police to be subject to further danger, making their already difficult jobs even more harrowing.

We will do everything in our power, using every legal resource to insure gains are not undone, and New Yorkers are not put in greater danger of gun violence.

There is no place in the nation this decision affects more than New York City, no place in the nation that will be impacted more than New York City or is affected as much as New Yorkers.

And we are prepared to set example, lead the country in fighting back this decision. Today’s Supreme Court decision may feed gun violence.

Now is time for every elected official who cares for safety of all Americans to come together, to respond thoroughly, comprehensively to this appalling decision.

New York City Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell added, “This decision has been remanded back to lower courts. Nothing changes. A premise permit doesn’t automatically change to a carry permit. If you carry without a permit, you will be arrested.” 

Statement by President Joe Biden on Supreme Court Ruling on Guns

I am deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court’s ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. Since 1911, the State of New York has required individuals who would like to carry a concealed weapon in public to show a need to do so for the purpose of self-defense and to acquire a license. More than a century later, the United States Supreme Court has chosen to strike down New York’s long-established authority to protect its citizens. This ruling contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should deeply trouble us all.
 
In the wake of the horrific attacks in Buffalo and Uvalde, as well as the daily acts of gun violence that do not make national headlines, we must do more as a society — not less — to protect our fellow Americans. I remain committed to doing everything in my power to reduce gun violence and make our communities safer. I have already taken more executive actions to reduce gun violence than any other President during their first year in office, and I will continue to do all that I can to protect Americans from gun violence. 
 
I urge states to continue to enact and enforce commonsense laws to make their citizens and communities safer from gun violence. As the late Justice Scalia recognized, the Second Amendment is not absolute. For centuries, states have regulated who may purchase or possess weapons, the types of weapons they may use, and the places they may carry those weapons. And the courts have upheld these regulations.
 
I call on Americans across the country to make their voices heard on gun safety. Lives are on the line.

New Yorkers Protest for Gun Safety Laws to End Scourge of Gun Violence Epidemic

“The NRA Has Blood on Its Hands.” UFT joins March For Our Lives rally in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

[Breaking news: Just one day after the March for Our Lives events, the bipartisan Senate committee working on some compromise gun violence prevention legislation announced they had come up with a framework. The proposal calls for making juvenile records of gun buyers under age 21 available when they undergo background checks; provides money to states to implement “red flag” laws and to bolster school safety and mental health programs; require more people who sell guns obtain federal dealers’ licenses, which means they would have to conduct background checks of purchasers. President Biden immediately put out a statement that the framework “does not do everything that I think is needed, but it reflects important steps in the right direction, and would be the most significant gun safety legislation to pass Congress in decades.” He urged rapid passage. But as you see in what the gun violence prevention activists are saying, there is much, much more to do.]

Amid the palpable outrage, frustration and fear, there is this kernel of hope that what didn’t happen after Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkville and now Uvalde, the 40,000 lives lost to gun violence last year, and the more than 200 mass shootings that have already happened this year, or the report that more children and teens are killed by guns than by disease or car accidents, may finally happen: that Congress would finally pass sensible gun safety regulations to end the public health epidemic of gun violence. And the difference is this: the election season for the midterms is already underway and Congressmen have already had their primary challenges so shouldn’t “fear” being primaried by an even more fascist candidate to appeal to the bloodlust of their base.

“I’m Scared to Be a Teacher..” UFT joins March For Our Lives rally in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Over a thousand protesters – representing a huge array of groups including March for Our Lives, Youth Against Violence, teachers from the UFT and AFT, Moms Demand Action, Everytown, NYACLU, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence and many more – who marched from Brooklyn to Manhattan to rally – screamed and cheered when urged to vote out any politician who refuses to put children’s lives over the gun industry’s profits.

“United States of School Shootings.” UFT joins March For Our Lives rally in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“End gun worship,” Rev. Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft of Middle Church, intoned. “Vote out every politician who supports the NRA, gun lobby.”

“Love Children More.” UFT joins March For Our Lives rally in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

They called for universal background checks, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and other instruments and weapons of war never meant for the streets; raise the minimum age to buy a gun to 21; mandate safe storage so that a two-year old who finds a gun doesn’t kill his sibling (or what just happened when a mother handed her two year old her gun, killed his father), and Red Flag laws.

“Message to Congress: None of You are Ballotproof.” March For Our Lives rally in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And mindful that it is Republican Senators (Democrats passed gun reform in the House) who have blocked every gun safety measure for the past 30 years, they called for an end to the filibuster, since there do not seem to be 10 Republican Senators of conscience.

“End Gun Violence.” March For Our Lives rally in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Dr. Nancy Dodson, a pediatrician and gun safety activist, said gun violence is a public health crisis and one that is propagated by the propaganda of the gun industry, no different in its campaign to deflect and distract (mental health, not guns), than the lead paint industry who blamed neglectful mothers and even put out a children’s book to say that lead paint is good for you, and the tobacco industry.

“Hey NRA, How Many Kids Did you Kill Today,” became one of the cheers during the March For Our Lives protest in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Why aren’t there cigarette ads in magazines, commercials on TVs, toy giveaways?  Because they were sued. But the gun industry, despite 40,000 killed last year including 4000 children has near-total immunity, under the Protection of Legal Commerce in Arms Act. This is an unjust law that must be repealed so that victims and survivors can sue,” she declared, to cheers.

“Never Again.” March For Our Lives rally in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

 “It would lead to economic justice for victims and radical changes in design, advertising and sales of guns. “What is the life of a child worth? Gun manufacturers should find out in court.”

“Laws can change social norms,” she said. Drunk driving became socially unacceptable, it became a loving gesture to take your friend’s keys away. It should be the same for guns.”

That means more use of Red Flag Laws, so that it becomes culturally acceptable to say, “You’re struggling now, so don’t do something you’ll regret.”

“We have saved lives of children before and cited examples and a public health scourge through changing  culture – drunk driving… And many examples of government taking action – after one guy got on a plane with explosives in his shoe and another with explosive underpants, everyone for the past 20 years has had to take off their shoes at the airport, been patted down and x-rayed.

March Against Gun Violence: Policy & Action Over Thoughts & Prayers, takes the protest over the Brooklyn Bridge © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
New York State Attorney General Letitia James and New York City Mayor Eric Adams join organizers of the March Against Gun Violence, March for Our Lives and UFT crossing the Brooklyn Bridge to call for gun safety legislation to end the gun violence epidemic  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Ali and Aj of AJ Band described the terror of being in the midst of multiple mass shootings – outside their concert venue, someone sprayed 100 rounds , leaving six dead on the pavement just outside their tour bus where they had hit the ground, then again in Portland, then again in Atlanta they heard shots. “This should not be normal.”

Aly and AJ of the AJ Band speak of their own terror surviving a mass shooting that left six dead on the street in front of their tour bus parked at a concert venue © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Instead, the Republicans are trying to deflect, putting the onus on mental health and school security, when school districts are cutting funding for actual education, for the arts, theater and music programs that might help that alienated youth to find a better outlet.

“Books Not Bullets.” March for Our Lives rally, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Young people must turn their passion and pain to purpose and vote,” said Attorney General Letitia James, who was with the protest from the beginning of the march through the end of the rally. “Congress won’t act until they feel the power of the people.  Vote in record numbers to end the violence.

“I am 21 and have lived through 369 school shootings.” Gun Violence is now the number one killer of children under 18, surpassing disease and car accidents. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Enough prayers, empty thoughts. This is a defining moment young people, for the country. Women’s rights, civil rights, gay rights, trans rights, disabled rights, environmental protection did not start with politicians. It was all of you young people who lead and politicians who followed. Break the collective yoke around the neck of this country…Turn out and vote, vote, vote the reckless cowards out of office, the spineless, gutless who believe in power over people.”

Janella Hines, a high school teacher, speaks of gun violence in homes and how one of her students was murdered. “The trauma is experienced day after day. This is not what teachers went to school for, but we have to do it. It’s time for policy and change.”Gun safety activists are calling for Red Flag laws and universal background checks.  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Janella Hines, representing the UFT which helped organize the march, spoke for the teachers who carried signs saying, “I’m scared.” “Books not bullets.” And how when they decided to make teaching their career, they never expected that protecting children from gunmen with military-style weapons, and comforting the traumatized children after they have lost classmates, was part of the job description.

She focused not on the mass shootings that have so terrorized – in schools, churches, grocery stores, concerts, movie theaters, malls – but violence in homes. One of her student’s, named Chloe, was murdered with her sister and mother by her step father on her sister’s birthday. “The entire school community suffered the loss. The trauma is experienced day after day. This is not what teachers went to school for, but we have to do it. It’s time for policy and change.”

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney declared, “If guns made us safe, we would be the safest on earth. But the only place more dangerous is Ukraine, and they are at war. We are killing people because of the easy access to guns,” and called for an end to gun manufacturers’ immunity to lawsuits © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney declared, “If guns made us safe, we would be the safest on earth. But the only place more dangerous is Ukraine, and they are at war.

“We are killing people because of the easy access to guns.” She said that gun manufacturers need to be held accountable for profiting from murdering children. and called for an end to the immunity gun manufacturers, unlike every other industry, from liability lawsuits.

Congressman Mondaire Jones, if the Senate Republicans block passing the Protecting Our Kids Act, end the filibuster, and if the Supreme Court overturns gun safety laws, expand the court to nullify Trump’s three radical rightwing ideologues © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Congressman Mondaire Jones, the youngest member of the House Judiciary Committee (whose remarks inspired rebuke from Republicans and Tucker Carlson), noted that the House has passed a package of gun safety bills, but that they will likely languish, as have all gun regulations for the past 30 years, in the Senate. “Make sure the Senate hears you.”

He is a sponsor of the Protecting Our Kids Act which changes federal firearms laws, including to establish new criminal offenses and to expand the types of weapons and devices that are subject to regulation. The bill:

  • generally prohibits the sale or transfer of certain semiautomatic firearms to individuals who are under 21 years of age;
  • establishes new federal criminal offenses for gun trafficking and related conduct;
  • establishes a federal statutory framework to regulate ghost guns (i.e., guns without serial numbers);
  • establishes a framework to regulate the storage of firearms on residential premises at the federal, state, and tribal levels;
  • subjects bump stocks to regulation under federal firearms laws;
  • generally prohibits the import, sale, manufacture, transfer, and possession of large capacity ammunition feeding devices; and
  • requires the Department of Justice to report on the demographic data of persons who are determined to be ineligible to purchase a firearm based on a background check performed by the national instant criminal background check system.

“If we can’t find 10 Senate Republicans of good conscience, we need to abolish the filibuster.”

He also introduced the Judiciary Act, which would expand the Supreme Court by four, to undo the damage of Trump putting three hard-right ideological partisans on the bench, orchestrated by then Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who refused to allow Obama to appoint a justice after Antonin Scalia died 10 months before the 2016 election, then rushed through Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment even though voting in the 2020 presidential election had already begun.

The young people of Youth Against Violence and March for Our Lives are propelling the movement to end the gun violence epidemic © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Meanwhile, the rightwing majority on the Supreme Court is poised to overturn New York’s gun permit law, taking away a vital tool to keep guns off the streets, even as New York State passed 10 more gun safety laws.

Governor Kathy Hochul vowed to bring back the Legislature for an emergency session to address whatever the Supreme Court throws. (My idea is to require all gun owners to be enlisted in a “well-regulated militia” where they would train, drill, and be available to protect the state against foreign and domestic enemies, as the Founding Fathers intended in the Second Amendment (See: Guns Again Again).

Moms Demand Action was prominent at the March for Our Lives event in New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York’s was one of some 450 events throughout the United States and the world, including a re-do of the March For Our Lives rally in Washington DC that followed the 2018 massacre.

They are hoping it isn’t déjà vu all over again, with Congress doing nothing.

The message from Jessalise Rivera: “I’m 9. Please don’t shoot me while I’m learning.”

Jessalise Rivera offers this message: “I’m 9. Please don’t shoot me while I’m learning.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Here are more photo highlights from the march and rally:

March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
UFT was one of the organizers of the March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“We March for Those Who Can’t.” March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“Am I Next”. March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
“The Scar Splattered Banner: The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a vote!” March Against Gun Violence in New York City, one of 450 March for Our Lives events on June 11, 2022 to demand gun safety legislation and end the public health crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

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NYS Legislature Passes Comprehensive 10-Bill Gun Safety Package, Strengthening NY’s Already Tough Gun Laws

Gun Safety Bills to Require Microstamping Technology for All Semi-Automatic Pistols, Expand Extreme Risk Protection Order Law, Improve Oversight and Regulation of Gun Dealers, Require a License to Purchase or Possess a Semi-automatic Rifle, and Other Common Sense Gun Violence Prevention Measures

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul, at Memorial Day Parade in Queens, NY, vows to implement whatever new gun safety legislation is necessary to protect New Yorkers. If and when the Supreme Court nullifies the state’s gun permit law, she said, “I will call back the legislature to work on a comprehensive package of proposed reforms. New Yorkers should know how seriously we are taking the fight to get guns off our streets.” The State Legislature just passed a package of 10 gun-safety bills © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

Even as President Joe Biden was appealing to Congress to finally act to end the scourge of gun violence that is taking more than 100 lives each day and has become the leading cause of death for children, New York State was passing a package of gun safety bills to further strengthen the state’s already stiff gun control laws. The action came just days after an 18-year old white supremacist, armed with an AR 15 assault weapon murdered 10 in a grocery store in a predominantly black neighborhood of Buffalo, followed closely by the massacre at the Uvalde, Texas elementary school, and then another at a Tulsa hospital. Meanwhile, the state awaits the radical rightwing Supreme Court majority’s decision on a case deciding whether New York can give criteria for someone to have a gun permit. Governor Kathy Hochul has said she would call the state Legislature back into session to adopt new gun laws should that happen.

Immediately following the State Legislature’s adoption of its package of gun laws, Governor Hochul stated, “Just last night a deadly semiautomatic weapon was once again used to mercilessly kill innocent civilians, this time at a medical facility in Oklahoma. It was a scene all too familiar in this country, one we’ve seen everywhere from Uvalde, to Sandy Hook, to Parkland, to my hometown of Buffalo. We cannot keep living like this. 

“We cannot be satisfied by New York’s already tough gun laws. Shooting after shooting makes it clear that they must be even stronger to keep New Yorkers safe. This comprehensive package will close loopholes, give law enforcement the tools they need to prevent easy access to guns, and stop the sale of dangerous weapons to 18-year-olds. I am grateful to Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Heastie, and our partners in the legislature, and I look forward to signing these bills into law. 

“Even as we take action to protect New Yorkers, we recognize that this is a nationwide problem. I once again urge Congress to seize this moment and pass meaningful gun violence prevention measures. We have no time to waste.”    

New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (NYAGV), a statewide advocacy organization, applauded the New York State Senate and New York State Assembly for passing a package of 10 gun safety bills this week.  The bills, which are expected to be signed by Governor Kathy Hochul, will require microstamping technology for all semi-automatic pistols, expand New York’s Extreme Risk Protection Order law, improve oversight and regulation of gun dealers, require a license to purchase or possess a semi-automatic rifle, and other measures that will prevent gun violence and mass shootings. 

The passage of this gun bill package comes on the heels of a scourge of gun violence and mass shootings during April and May across the state and country, including in Brooklyn and Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas, and as recently as last night, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, among numerous other gun violence incidents.

Rebecca Fischer, NYAGV Executive Director said, “Faced with a surging gun violence crisis, the New York State Legislature has once again made it a priority this week to protect New Yorkers by passing a strong, life-saving slate of gun violence prevention bills.  These measures will help keep guns away from people in crisis to prevent mass shootings, suicide and other gun violence, will require a license to purchase or possess a semi-automatic rifle anywhere in this state, and will provide law enforcement with microstamping tracing technology to stop gun trafficking and hold rogue gun dealers accountable. As New Yorkers and Americans, we should not have to fear gun violence on a daily basis in our neighborhoods or homes, in our subways, our supermarkets, our schools, our houses of worship, our hospitals, or anywhere else.  While Congress continues to stall on meaningful national gun reform, we are grateful to have outstanding gun violence prevention champions leading our state government who are committed to keeping our children and all New Yorkers safe.”

A.7926-A (Rosenthal, L)/S.4116-A (Hoylman): Requires DCJS to certify or decline to certify that microstamping-enabled pistols are technologically viable and if certified as viable, to establish programs and processes for the implementation of such technology; and, establishes the crime of the unlawful sale of a non-microstamping-enabled firearm.

A.1023-A (Paulin)/S.4970-A (Kavanagh): Requires all state and local law enforcement agencies to report seized or recovered guns to the criminal gun clearinghouse; participate in ATFs collective data sharing program; test-fire seized or recovered guns for national integrated Ballistic Information Network; and enter the make, model, caliber, and serial number of the gun into the national crime information center. Also requires gun dealers to implement a security plan for securing firearms, rifles and shotguns; prohibit persons under eighteen and not accompanied by a parent from the certain locations of a gun dealer’s premises; provide training to all employees on the conduct of firearm, rifle, and shotgun transfers, including identification of and response to illegal purchases; adhere to record keeping requirements; and require the State police to conduct inspections of gun dealers every three years.

A. 10502 (Cahill)/S. 9113-A (Skoufis): Expands who may file an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) petition to include health care practitioners who have examined the individual within the last six months; requires police and district attorneys to file ERPO petitions upon credible information that an individual is likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to himself, herself or others; requires the State Police and the Municipal Police Training Council to create and disseminate policies and procedures to identify when an ERPO petition may be warranted; amends the firearm licensing statute to make it clear that when an individual has been reported by a mental health practitioner and a county mental health commissioner has concurred with such practitioner that the individual is likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to them self or others, such report is considered in determining whether or not to issue a firearm license to the individual; and, expands the mental health practitioners who can make such reports.

A.10501 (Meeks)/S. 9465 (Bailey): Creates a new Task Force on Social Media and Violent Extremism in the Attorney General’s office to study and investigate the role of social media companies in promoting and facilitating violent extremism and domestic terrorism online.

A10503 (Jackson)/S. 9458 (Thomas): Requires that an individual obtain a license prior purchasing a semiautomatic rifle. This is prospective and applies to purchases made on and after the effective date.

A.6716-A (Wallace)/S89-B (Kaminsky): Creates the crimes of making a threat of mass harm and aggravated making a threat of mass harm.

A7865-A (Fahy)/ S.4511-A (Kaplan): Requires social media networks in New York to provide a clear and concise policy regarding how they would respond to incidents of hateful conduct on their platform and maintain easily accessible mechanisms for reporting hateful conduct on those platforms

A.10428-A (People-Stokes)/S.9229-A (Hoylman): Eliminates the grandfathering of large capacity ammunition feeding devices that were lawfully possessed prior to the enactment of the Safe Act or manufactured prior to 1994.

A. 10497 (Jacobson)/S.9407-B (Kavanagh): Makes unlawful the purchase and sale of body vests for anyone who is not engaged in an eligible profession. Eligible professions include law enforcement officers and other professions designated by the Department of State in consultation with other agencies. Also requires that any sale of a body vest be done in person.

A. 10504 (Burgos)/S. 9456 (Sepulveda): Expands the definition of a “firearm” to include any weapon not defined in the Penal Law that is designed or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by action of an explosive. This is intended to capture firearms that have been modified to be shot from an arm brace, which are evading our current definitions of firearms and rifles.

Biden Pleads for Congress to Act to End Scourge of Gun Violence: ‘Do something.  Just do something.  For God’s sake, do something’

After a spate of mass shootings that made the headlines – Buffalo, Uvalde, Tulsa – President Joe Biden addressed the nation to appeal, to demand Congress act to reduce America’s unique public health epidemic of gun violence. My fellow Americans, enough.  Enough.  It’s time for each of us to do our part.  It’s time to act,” he said, offering an agenda, a to-do list of what has to be done to at least reduce the carnage. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc

After a spate of mass shootings that made the headlines – Buffalo, Uvalde, Tulsa – President Joe Biden addressed the nation to appeal, to demand Congress act to reduce America’s unique public health epidemic of gun violence. Even as he spoke, there were additional mass shootings – more than one each and every day. More than 100 Americans are killed each day from gun violence – just since 1968, almost twice the number, nearly 2 million, than have died in all of America’s wars going back to the Revolution, 1 million. “My fellow Americans, enough.  Enough.  It’s time for each of us to do our part.  It’s time to act,” he said, offering an agenda, a to-do list of what has to be done to at least reduce the carnage.

Here is a highlighted transcript of President Biden’s remarks:

On Memorial Day this past Monday, Jill and I visited Arlington National Cemetery.
 
As we entered those hallowed grounds, we saw rows and rows of crosses among the rows of headstones, with other emblems of belief, honoring those who paid the ultimate price on battlefields around the world.
 
The day before, we visited Uvalde — Uvalde, Texas.  In front of Robb Elementary School, we stood before 21 crosses for 19 third and fourth graders and two teachers.  On each cross, a name.  And nearby, a photo of each victim that Jill and I reached out to touch.  Innocent victims, murdered in a classroom that had been turned into a killing field.
 
Standing there in that small town, like so many other communities across America, I couldn’t help but think there are too many other schools, too many other everyday places that have become killing fields, battlefields here in America.

We stood at such a place just 12 days before, across from a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, memorializing 10 fellow Americans — a spouse, a parent, a grandparent, a sibling — gone forever.
 
At both places, we spent hours with hundreds of family members who were broken and whose lives will never be the same.  And they had one message for all of us:

Do something.  Just do something.  For God’s sake, do something.
 
After Columbine, after Sandy Hook, after Charleston, after Orlando, after Las Vegas, after Parkland, nothing has been done.
 
This time, that can’t be true.  This time, we must actually do something.
 
The issue we face is one of conscience and common sense.
 
For so many of you at home, I want to be very clear: This is not about taking away anyone’s guns.  It’s not about vilifying gun owners.  In fact, we believe we should be treating responsible gun owners as an example of how every gun owner should behave.  I respect the culture and the tradition and the concerns of lawful gun owners. 
 
At the same time, the Second Amendment, like all other rights, is not absolute.  It was Justice Scalia who wrote, and I quote, “Like most rights, the right…” — Second Amendment — the rights granted by the Second Amendment are “not unlimited.”  Not unlimited.  It never has been. 
 
There have always been limitations on what weapons you can own in America.  For example, machine guns have been federally regulated for nearly 90 years.  And this is still a free country.
 
This isn’t about taking away anyone’s rights.  It’s about protecting children.  It’s about protecting families.  It’s about protecting whole communities.  It’s about protecting our freedoms to go to school, to a grocery store, and to a church without being shot and killed.
 
According to new data just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, guns are the number one killer of children in the United States of America.  The number one killer.  More than car accidents.  More than cancer.
 
Over the last two decades, more school-aged children have died from guns than on-duty police officers and active-duty military combined.  Think about that: more kids than on-duty cops killed by guns, more kids than soldiers killed by guns.
 
For God’s sake, how much more carnage are we willing to accept?  How many more innocent American lives must be taken before we say “enough”?  Enough.
 
I know that we can’t prevent every tragedy.  But here’s what I believe we have to do.  Here’s what the overwhelming majority of the American people believe we must do.  Here’s what the families in Buffalo and Uvalde, in Texas, told us we must do.
 
We need to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.  And if we can’t ban assault weapons, then we should raise the age to purchase them from 18 to 21. 

Strengthen background checks. 

Enact safe storage laws and red-flag laws. 

Repeal the immunity that protects gun manufacturers from liability. 

Address the mental health crisis deepening the trauma of gun violence and as a consequence of that violence.
 
These are rational, commonsense measures.  And here’s what it all means.  It all means this:

We should reinstate the assault weapons ban and high-capacity magazines that we passed in 1994 with bipartisan support in Congress and the support of law enforcement.  Nine categories of semi-automatic weapons were included in that ban, like AK-47s and AR-15s.
 
And in the 10 years it was law, mass shootings went down.  But after Republicans let the law expire in 2004 and those weapons were allowed to be sold again, mass shootings tripled.  Those are the facts.
 
A few years ago, the family of the inventor of the AR-15 said he would have been horrified to know that its design was being used to slaughter children and other innocent lives instead of being used as a military weapon on the battlefields, as it was designed — that’s what it was designed for.
 
Enough.  Enough. 
 
We should limit how many rounds a weapon can hold.  Why in God’s name should an ordinary citizen be able to purchase an assault weapon that holds 30-round magazines that let mass shooters fire hundreds of bullets in a matter of minutes?
 
The damage was so devastating in Uvalde, parents had to do DNA swabs to identify the remains of their children — 9- and 10-year-old children. 
 
Enough.
 
We should expand background checks to keep guns out of the hands of felons, fugitives, and those under restraining orders. 
 
Stronger background checks are something that the vast majority of Americans, including the majority of gun owners, agree on.
 
I also believe we should have safe storage laws and personal liability for not locking up your gun.
 
The shooter in Sandy Hook came from a home full of guns that were too easy to access.  That’s how he got the weapons — the weapon he used to kill his mother and then murder 26 people, including 20 first graders.
 
If you own a weapon, you have a responsibility to secure it — every responsible gun owner agrees — to make sure no one else can have access to it, to lock it up, to have trigger locks.  And if you don’t and something bad happens, you should be held responsible.
 
We should also have national red-flag laws so that a parent, a teacher, a counselor can flag for a court that a child, a student, a patient is exhibiting violent tendencies, threatening classmates, or experiencing suicidal thoughts that makes them a danger to themselves or to others.
 
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have red-flag laws.  The Delaware law is named after my son, Attorney General Beau Biden.
 
Fort Hood, Texas, 2009 — 13 dead and more than 30 injured.
 
Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 2018 — 17 dead, 17 injured.
 
In both places, countless others suffering with invisible wounds. 
 
Red-flag laws could have stopped both these shooters.
 
In Uvalde, the shooter was 17 when he asked his sister to buy him an assault weapon, knowing he’d be denied because he was too young to purchase one himself.  She refused. 
 
But as soon as he turned 18, he purchased two assault weapons for himself.  Because in Texas, you can be 18 years old and buy an assault weapon even though you can’t buy a pistol in Texas until you’re 21.

If we can’t ban assault weapons, as we should, we must at least raise the age to be able to purchase one to 21.
 
Look, I know some folks will say, “18-year-olds can serve in the military and fire those weapons.”  But that’s with training and supervision by the best-trained experts in the world.  Don’t tell me raising the age won’t make a difference. 
 
Enough.
 
We should repeal the liability shield that often protects gun manufacturers from being sued for the death and destruction caused by their weapons.  They’re the only industry in this country that has that kind of immunity.
 
Imagine — imagine if the tobacco industry had been immune from being sued — where we’d be today.  The gun industry’s special protections are outrageous.  It must end.
 
And let there be no mistake about the psychological trauma that gun violence leaves behind.
 
Imagine being that little girl — that brave little girl in Uvalde who smeared the blood off her murdered friend’s body onto her own face to lie still among the corpses in her classroom and pretend she was dead in order to stay alive.  Imagine — imagine what it would it be like for her to walk down the hallway of any school again.
 
Imagine what it’s like for children who experience this kind of trauma every day in school, in the streets, in communities all across America. 
 
Imagine what it is like for so many parents to hug their children goodbye in the morning, not sure whether they’ll come back home.

 
Unfortunately, too many people don’t have to imagine that at all.
 
Even before the pandemic, young people were already hurting.  There’s a serious youth mental health crisis in this country, and we have to do something about it. 
 
That’s why mental health is at the heart of my Unity Agenda that I laid out in the State of the Union Address this year. 
 
We must provide more school counselors, more school nurses, more mental health services for students and for teachers, more people volunteering as mentors to help young people succeed, more privacy protection and resources to keep kids safe from the harms of social media.
 
This Unity Agenda won’t fully heal the wounded souls, but it will help.  It matters.

I just told you what I’d do.  The question now is: What will the Congress do?
 
The House of Representatives has already passed key measures we need.  Expanding background checks to cover nearly all gun sales, including at gun shows and online sales.  Getting rid of the loophole that allows a gun sale to go through after three business days even if the background check has not been completed.
 
And the House is planning even more action next week.  Safe storage requirements.  The banning of high-capacity magazines.  Raising the age to buy an assault weapon to 21.  Federal red-flag law.  Codifying my ban on ghost guns that don’t have serial numbers and can’t be traced.  And tougher laws to prevent gun trafficking and straw purchases.
 
This time, we have to take the time to do something.  And this time, it’s time for the Senate to do something.

But, as we know, in order to get anything done in the Senate, we need a minimum of 10 Republican senators.
 
I support the bipartisan efforts that include a small group of Democrats and Republican senators trying to find a way.  But my God, the fact that the majority of the Senate Republicans don’t want any of these proposals even to be debated or come up for a vote, I find unconscionable.
 
We can’t fail the American people again.

Since Uvalde, just over a week ago, there have been 20 other mass shootings in America, each with four or more people killed or injured, including yesterday at a hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
 
A shooter deliberately targeted a surgeon using an assault weapon he bought just a few hours before his rampage that left the surgeon, another doctor, a receptionist, and a patient dead, and many more injured.
 
That doesn’t count the carnage we see every single day that doesn’t make the headlines.
 
I’ve been in this fight for a long time.  I know how hard it is, but I’ll never give up.  And if Congress fails, I believe this time a majority of the American people won’t give up either.  I believe the majority of you will act to turn your outrage into making this issue central to your vote.
 
Enough.  Enough.  Enough.
 
Over the next 17 days, the families in Uvalde will continue burying their dead.
 
It will take that long in part because it’s a town where everyone knows everyone, and day by day they will honor each one they lost.
 
Jill and I met with the owner and staff of the funeral home that is being strong — strong, strong, strong — to take care of their own.
 
And the people of Uvalde mourn.  As they do over the next 17 days, what will we be doing as a nation?
 
Jill and I met with the sister of the teacher who was murdered and whose husband died of a heart attack two days later, leaving behind four beautiful, orphaned children — and all now orphaned.
The sister asked us: What could she say?  What could she tell her nieces and nephews?
 
It was one of the most heartbreaking moments that I can remember.  All I could think to say was — I told her to hold them tight.  Hold them tight.
 
After visiting the school, we attended mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church with Father Eddie.
 
In the pews, families and friends held each other tightly.  As Archbishop Gustavo spoke, he asked the children in attendance to come up on the altar and sit on the altar with him as he spoke.
 
There wasn’t enough room, so a mom and her young son sat next to Jill and me in the first pew.  And as we left the church, a grandmother who had just lost her granddaughter passed me a handwritten letter.
 
It read, quote, “Erase the invisible line that is dividing our nation.  Come up with a solution and fix what’s broken and make the changes that are necessary to prevent this from happening again.”  End of quote.
 
My fellow Americans, enough.  Enough.  It’s time for each of us to do our part.  It’s time to act.

For the children we’ve lost, for the children we can save, for the nation we love, let’s hear the call and the cry.  Let’s meet the moment.  Let us finally do something.
 
God bless the families who are hurting.  God bless you all.
 
From a hymn based on the 91st Psalm sung in my church:

May He raise you up on eagle’s wings
and bear you on the breath of dawn
make you to shine like the sun
and hold you in the palm of His hand.

 
That’s my prayer for all of you.  God bless you.

Biden in SOTU Describes Comprehensive Strategy to Fight Crime, Reduce Gun Violence, Make Communities Safer

In his 2022 State of the Union Address, President Biden will discuss his comprehensive strategy to fight crime by investing in crime prevention and helping cities and towns hire additional community police officers to walk the streets, get to know their neighbors, and restore trust and safety. He’ll make clear that the answer is not to defund the police, it’s to put more police – with better training and more accountability – out to take back our streets and make our neighborhoods safer. He will describe the steps his Administration has taken – and will continue to take – to advance that accountability and rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc.

There is simply not enough time or space for President Biden, in his State of the Union address, to provide all the details to the policies he has achieved or will implement. A major issue for the President has been addressing America’s epidemic of gun violence. Here are more details from the White House about President Biden’s historic actions to make our communities safer by reducing gun crime:

In his 2022 State of the Union Address, President Biden will discuss his comprehensive strategy to fight crime by investing in crime prevention and helping cities and towns hire additional community police officers to walk the streets, get to know their neighbors, and restore trust and safety.

He’ll make clear that the answer is not to defund the police, it’s to put more police – with better training and more accountability – out to take back our streets and make our neighborhoods safer. He will describe the steps his Administration has taken – and will continue to take – to advance that accountability and rebuild trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

Investing in community-based crime prevention and putting more cops on the beat in community policing are the two foundational policies that then-Senator Biden advanced when the United States faced record crime rates in the 1990s. At that time, he wrote a law to change how our country fights crime. We then experienced the sharpest drop in crime on record.


President Biden has spent his first year in office executing on his 
five-part comprehensive strategy make our communities safer and reduce the increase in gun crime we’ve seen since the beginning of the pandemic. It builds off the President’s long-held principles by getting tough on gun crime, and making community investments to prevent crime from happening in the first place:

  • Stems the flow of firearms used to commit violence, including through tougher federal law enforcement efforts against gun traffickers like our regional DOJ strike forces
  • Supports local law enforcement with federal tools and resources to address violent crime and put more cops on the beat, including through record funding in the Rescue Plan
  • Invests in evidence-based community violence interventions that are proven to stop disputes from spilling over into gun violence
  • Expands summer programming, employment opportunities, and other services and supports for teenagers and young adults
  • Helps formerly incarcerated individuals successfully reenter their communities and break the cycle of re-offending

At the same time, President Biden will use the State of the Union Address to reiterate his call for Congress to pass commonsense gun violence legislation that will save lives, and the President continues to urge Congress to act on his budget request of $200 million for community violence interventions and $300 million budget request to more than double the size of the Department of Justice’s COPS community policing hiring grant program.

In his 2022 State of the Union Address, President Biden will highlight how his Administration is executing on his comprehensive strategy to make our communities safer and reduce gun crime. The President’s comprehensive strategy advances two foundational policies – investing in crime prevention and helping cities and towns hire additional community police officers to walk the streets, get to know their neighbors, and restore trust and safety. These are the two foundational policies that then-Senator Biden advanced when the United States faced record crime rates in the 1990s. At that time, he wrote a law to change how our country fights crime. We then experienced the sharpest drop in crime on record.

President Biden recognizes the important role that law enforcement plays in stopping the interstate flow of guns used in crimes and taking off our streets the small number of individuals responsible for a disproportionate amount of gun crimes. To support state and local law enforcement, the U.S. Department of Justice has launched five gun trafficking strike forces and is cracking down on the “Iron Pipeline” – the illegal flow of guns sold in the south, transported up the East Coast, and found at crime scenes in cities from Baltimore to New York City. In addition, the Justice Department has directed every U.S. Attorney’s Office nationwide to increase resources dedicated to district specific violent crime strategies. The Justice Department is working with state and local law enforcement to address the most significant drivers of violence in each district, including to get repeat gun violence offenders off of our streets. New York City’s Gun Violence Strategic Partnership – which the President and Attorney General visited in February 2022 – is one model of the strategies Justice will help expand nationwide.   
 
The President is committed to serving as a strong partner for state and local law enforcement on the frontlines of the fight against crime. That’s why his American Rescue Plan gives cities and states historic levels of funding that they can use to put more cops on the beat for community policing. That’s also why the President continues to urge Congress to act on his $300 million budget request to more than double the size of the Department of Justice’s COPS community policing grant program.
 
Stronger law enforcement is made more effective when we make real investments in making our communities stronger and in addressing the causes of crime before it spills over into violence. That’s why President Biden’s comprehensive approach makes sure cities and states have the funding, training, and know-how they need to invest in proven tactics including street outreach by credible messengers, hospital-based intervention, and youth programming. And it’s bolstered by additional funding to create economic opportunity with job training, expand after-school activities, and provide stable housing and other stabilizing supports necessary to reduce recidivism and help formerly incarcerated individuals reenter their communities. The President has proposed a $5 billion investment in community violence interventions, including a $200 million investment in Fiscal Year 2022.

Taken together, President Biden’s gun crime reduction strategy steps up and focuses law enforcement efforts on violent offenders, stems the trafficking of illegal guns, and makes real investments in communities to intervene in and prevent gun violence. The President knows a complex and devastating challenge like the surge of gun crime we’ve seen over the last two years requires an ambitious, evidence-based response that uses every tool at our disposal, and that’s exactly what his plan does.
 
At the same time, President Biden will use the State of the Union Address to reiterate his call for Congress to pass commonsense gun violence prevention legislation that will save lives. This legislation, which fully aligns with the Second Amendment, includes requiring background checks for all gun sales, ensuring that no terrorist can buy a weapon in the United States, banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines, repealing gun manufacturers’ protection from liability, and banning ghost guns.
 
EXECUTING ON THE PRESIDENT’S COMPREHENSIVE GUN CRIME REDUCTION STRATEGY
 
President Biden spent his first year in office executing on his five-part comprehensive strategy make our communities safer and reduce gun crime, which:

  • Stems the flow of firearms used to commit violence,
  • Supports local law enforcement with federal tools and resources to address violent crime,
  • Invests in evidence-based community violence interventions,
  • Expands summer programming, employment opportunities, and other services and supports for teenagers and young adults, and
  • Helps formerly incarcerated individuals successfully reenter their communities.

 
In fact, during President Biden’s first year in office, the Biden-Harris Administration made more progress on executive actions to reduce gun violence than any other Administration has in its first year. Since taking office, President Biden has announced four packages of executive actions – an initial set of actions during a Rose Garden address in April, a comprehensive gun crime reduction strategysteps to promote safe storage of firearms, and additional Justice Department actions to enforce our gun laws and keep guns out of dangerous hands. These executive actions represent a whole-of-government approach, mobilizing the Departments of Justice, Veterans Affairs, Defense, Transportation, Health and Human Services, Labor, Homeland Security, Education, and Housing and Urban Development toward the shared goal of reducing gun violence. Highlights of these actions include three significant Justice Department rulemakings, agency guidance encouraging the use of hundreds of billions of American Rescue Plan dollars for gun violence reduction, and historic progress to advance community violence interventions.
 
Keeping Especially Dangerous Weapons and Repeat Shooters Off Our Streets
 
Helping state and local law enforcement take repeat shooters off our streets. The Attorney General has directed every U.S. Attorney’s Office nationwide to increase resources dedicated to district specific violent crime strategies. The Justice Department will work with state and local law enforcement to address the most significant drivers of violence in each district, including to get repeat gun violence offenders off of our streets.  New York City’s Gun Violence Strategic Partnership – which the President and Attorney General visited with Mayor Eric Adams in February 2022 – is one model of the strategies Justice will help expand nationwide.
 
Reining in the proliferation of ghost guns. In May 2021, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) issued a proposed rule to help stop the proliferation of “ghost guns,” which are unserialized, privately made firearms that are increasingly being recovered at crime scenes and have been identified by law enforcement officials as a serious threat to public safety. Today, criminals are buying kits containing nearly all of the components and directions for finishing a firearm within as little as 30 minutes and using these firearms to commit crimes. When these firearms turn up at crime scenes, they often cannot be traced by law enforcement due to the lack of a serial number – making it harder to catch the criminals behind shootings. ATF is reviewing public comments in response to the proposed rule, the next step in the regulatory process. In the meantime, the Justice Department launched a National Ghost Gun Enforcement Initiative, which will train a national cadre of prosecutors and disseminate investigation and prosecution tools to help bring cases against those who use ghost guns to commit crimes.   
 
Better regulating devices marketed as stabilizing braces. In June 2021, ATF issued a proposed rule to better regulate when devices marketed as firearm stabilizing braces effectively turn pistols into short-barreled rifles subject to the National Firearms Act. These braces can make a firearm more stable and accurate while still being concealable. ATF is reviewing public comments in response to the proposed rule, the next step in the regulatory process.
 
Keeping Guns out of the Wrong Hands
 
Helping states enact model extreme risk protection order (“red flag”) legislation. In June 2021, the Justice Department published model extreme risk protection order legislation to make it easier for states that want to adopt these red flag laws to do so. These laws allow family members or law enforcement to petition for a court order temporarily barring people in crisis from accessing firearms if they present a danger to themselves or others. 
 
Making progress on a report to give policymakers the information they need to help address firearms trafficking. In April 2021, the Justice Department announced that it will issue a new, comprehensive report on firearms commerce and trafficking and annual updates necessary to give policymakers the information they need to help address firearms trafficking today. To ensure the report is rigorous and helpful for policymakers, ATF has assembled a group of accomplished researchers and law enforcement subject matter experts. The academic team is currently undertaking such work as an independent analysis of ATF firearms commerce data to ensure accurate research that informs key policy findings and recommendations, and an analysis of technological developments over the past twenty years, including the use of polymers for the modular manufacture of firearms, the evolution of 3D printing of firearm components, and the pervasive availability of kits on the commercial market, facilitating the assembly of privately made firearms.
 
Established zero tolerance for rogue gun dealers that willfully violate the law. In June 2021, the Justice Department announced a new policy to underscore zero tolerance for willful violations of the law by federally licensed firearms dealers that put public safety at risk. Absent extraordinary circumstances that would need to be justified to the Director, ATF will seek to revoke the licenses of dealers the first time that they violate federal law by willfully 1) transferring a firearm to a prohibited person, 2) failing to run a required background check, 3) falsifying records, such as a firearms transaction form, 4) failing to respond to an ATF tracing request, or 5) refusing to permit ATF to conduct an inspection in violation of the law.
 
Launched multijurisdictional firearms trafficking strike forces. In July 2021, the Justice Department launched five new law enforcement strike forces focused on addressing significant firearms trafficking corridors that have diverted guns to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and Washington, D.C. Those strike forces have already opened more than 540 investigations and taken custody of almost 3,100 crime guns. In February 2022, the Justice Department built on this commitment by announcing that it is cracking down on the “Iron Pipeline” – the illegal flow of guns sold in the south, transported up the East Coast, and found at crime scenes in cities from Baltimore to New York City – and other firearms trafficking by adding personnel and other resources to strengthen these strike forces.
 
Launched a public education campaign to encourage firearm safe storage. In September, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched a new paid media campaign featuring a series of public service announcements to reinforce the key message that a simple gun lock can save lives. These PSAs appeared across multiple platforms, including TV, social media, and streaming services. The campaign also targeted specific venues and events and involved a diverse array of channels, yielding more than 1.8 billion impressions across all platforms in less than 3 months. Viewers were directed to KeepItSecure.net for additional resources. This campaign will continue through 2022.
 
Launched an unprecedented focus on improving lethal means safety in the Military and Veteran Suicide Prevention Strategy. In November, the Departments of Defense (DOD), Health and Human Services (HHS), Homeland Security (DHS), Justice (DOJ), and Veterans Affairs (VA), as well as the Office of Emergency Medical Services within the Department of Transportation (DOT), announced that they will jointly create a plan for addressing lethal means safety awareness, education, training, and program evaluation. This coordinated campaign will build upon the VA launch in September and encourage safer storage practices, safety planning, and time and space behavioral measures for crisis response.
 
Making it easier for customers to obtain secure gun storage or safety devices. In January 2022, ATF issued a final rule clarifying firearms dealers’ statutory obligations to make available for purchase compatible secure gun storage or safety devices. Additionally, ATF has now issued a best practices guide to all federal firearms dealers to reiterate the important steps they are legally required to take, and additional steps they are encouraged to take, to keep their customers and communities safe. The guide includes materials for Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to distribute to customers to help them better understand their legal obligations as firearms owners, as well as practical steps they can take to facilitate the safe storage of firearms and keep firearms out of the hands of people prohibited from possessing firearms.
 
Making Additional Progress to Reduce Community Violence
 
Many actions listed above will directly reduce community violence disproportionately affecting Black and brown communities. The Administration has also taken a number of steps focused solely on advancing community violence interventions, proven strategies for reducing gun violence in urban communities. As part of his Build Back Better agenda, President Biden proposed $5 billion in funding for the Department of Justice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to invest in community violence interventions, evidence-based programs that are shown to help reduce violent crime. The President has proposed a $5 billion investment in community violence interventions, including a $200 million investment in Fiscal Year 2022.
 
But this Administration isn’t waiting on Congress to act; we have already invested in and expanded community violence interventions. These actions include:
 
Investing historic levels of existing federal funding in community violence interventions, including American Rescue Plan funding. The Biden Administration made certain American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding – $350 billion in state and local funding, and $122 billion in K-12 funding – available as unprecedented resources for CVI. Senior White House advisors also issued a memo to state and local officials outlining how these elected leaders not only can – but should – use ARP funds for CVI. Cities across the country, such as Seattle, Washington; Buffalo, New York; and Atlanta, Georgia – have responded to this call by committing and deploying ARP funds for CVI. In addition, five federal agencies made changes to 26 different programs to direct vital support to community violence intervention programs as quickly as possible. For example, the National Institutes of Health announced funding through its Firearm Injury and Mortality Prevention Research grants for four community violence programs – including a place-based strategy involving repurposing vacant lots in Detroit, an evaluation of READI Chicago, a burnout prevention program for violence interrupters in Chicago, and a hospital-based violence intervention program focused on youth in Virginia. The Justice Department announced $187 million for states and $85 million for localities through the Byrne JAG Program to support coordinated violence prevention and intervention; the Department explicitly encouraged the use of these funds for CVI. In September, the Department of Housing and Urban Development published a guide explaining to localities how Community Development Block Grants–a $3.4 billion annual funding stream–can be used to fund CVI strategies. The Department of Education released a letter to state school associations on how 21st Century Learning Centers funds and Student Support and Academic enrichment programs – both billion-dollar formula grant funding streams – can be used to fund CVI strategies in schools.
 
Making progress on state legislation to allow Medicaid to support community violence interventions. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services hosted a webinar and published information to educate states on how they can use Medicaid to reimburse certain community violence intervention programs, like Hospital-Based Violence Interventions. Last year, Connecticut and Illinois enacted legislation that allows Medicaid to reimburse providers for hospital-based violence prevention services – the first two states in the country to pursue this approach. According to reporting by USA Today, “[t]he idea has been in the works for years, advocates say, but not until the Biden administration signaled that states could – and should – use Medicaid dollars to support these violence prevention programs have state lawmakers stepped up.”
 
Using the White House’s convening power to support community violence interventions. In July 2021, senior White House staff established The White House Community Violence Intervention Collaborative, a 16-jurisdiction cohort of mayors, law enforcement, CVI experts, and philanthropic leaders committed to using American Rescue Plan funding or other public funding to increase investment in their community violence intervention infrastructure. The Collaborative is spending 18 months strengthening and scaling the jurisdictions’ community violence intervention infrastructure to reduce gun crime and promote public safety. National experts and federal agencies are providing training and technical assistance to help communities assess their existing public safety ecosystem, identify gaps, and build the capacity to expand programming that saves lives. White House staff continue to regularly work with the Collaborative.
 
Providing Law Enforcement with the Tools and Resources They need to Reduce Gun Violence
 
Deploying federal law enforcement to support local communities in addressing gun violence. As part of the Justice Department’s Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Violent Crime, the Justice Department has supported law enforcement in local communities in addressing gun violence. In particular, the Justice Department has provided enforcement support from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), ATF, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and United States Marshals Service (USMS). In Fiscal Year 2021 alone, the USMS partnered with over 1,700 state and local agencies through district and regional task forces, apprehended more than 84,000 fugitives including more than 6,000 murder suspects, and seized more than 7,000 firearms during numerous violence reduction and counter gang operations. In 2021, ATF embedded with homicide and shooting investigation units in police and sheriff’s departments in more than 60 communities across the country, and expanded the reach of its National NIBIN Correlation and Training Center to an additional 35 sites. ATF now provides ballistic matching services and generates leads for more than 1,400 local police departments nationwide. In 2021, FBI partnered with nearly 2,000 state and local officers as part of its Violent Crime Task Forces and Safe Streets Task Forces, which together have confiscated more than 5,000 illegal firearms. Finally, DEA has strong partnerships with state and local law enforcement – 4,600 of whom served as DEA task force officers in 2021, disrupting the activity of some of the most violent drug trafficking organizations in the country. In 2021 alone, DEA was involved in the seizure of over 8,700 crime guns and opened 912 investigations with a nexus to violent crime.
 
Investing American Rescue Plan funding in community-oriented policing to reduce gun violence. The Biden Administration made historic levels of funding from the American Rescue Plan – $350 billion in state and local funding – available for law enforcement purposes such as hiring law enforcement or paying overtime where the funds are directly focused on advancing community policing strategies in those communities experiencing an increase in gun violence associated with the pandemic. Funds were also made available for additional enforcement efforts to reduce gun violence exacerbated by the pandemic, including prosecuting gun traffickers, rogue dealers, and other parties contributing to the supply of crime guns, as well as collaborative federal/state/local efforts to identify and address gun trafficking channels. Cities across the country, such as Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Syracuse, New York; and Mobile, Alabama, have responded to this call by committing and deploying ARP funds for advancing community-oriented policing. In addition, the Department of Justice continues to further the Administration’s support of community-oriented policing, including through the announcement of $139 million in grants to local law enforcement that will put over 1,000 police officers on the beat through the COPS Office Hiring Program. President Biden was instrumental in that program’s creation and has called for it to be doubled in size in his FY22 budget request.
 
Keeping Guns Out of the Hands of Domestic Abusers. In 2021, the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) expanded the Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Firearms Technical Assistance Project (FTAP) to provide funding directly to those communities that participated in FTAP in the past, as well as choosing new communities to receive funding and technical assistance. FTAP helps communities identify challenges limiting a more robust implementation of domestic violence firearms laws in their jurisdictions and assists them in establishing a localized response that is best suited to their communities’ unique needs and characteristics.  OVW will award an estimated $6 million for up to 12 sites and $4 million for training and technical assistance on firearms and domestic violence.
 
Addressing the Root Causes of Gun Violence
 
Investing American Rescue Plan funding in public safety strategies such as summer jobs for young adults and substance abuse and mental health services. The Biden Administration has made historic levels of funding from the American Rescue Plan  – $350 billion in state and local funding and $122 billion in school funding  – available for purposes such as hiring nurses, counselors, and social workers; providing court personnel and operations costs to return to pre-pandemic operation levels; providing and expanding employment services, including summer jobs for young people and programs that provide training and work experience for formerly incarcerated persons and other individuals who live in communities most impacted by high levels of violence; providing and expanding summer education and enrichment programs, including summer camp; and scaling up wraparound services, such as housing, medical and mental health care, trauma-informed care, substance use disorder treatment, food assistance, and job placement services, for victims of crime, young people, formerly incarcerated persons, and individuals and households facing economic insecurity due to the pandemic. Cities and counties across the country, including St. Louis, Missouri; Tucson, Arizona; and Los Angeles County, California, have responded to this call by committing and deploying ARP funds for these purposes.
 
Providing meaningful work, education, or enrichment to keep young people safe and give them a path to success. For example, in June 2021, the Department of Labor awarded $89 million through its YouthBuild program to provide pre-apprenticeship opportunities for young people ages 16-24. The Department of Labor also awarded $20 million through its Workforce Pathways for Youth program to expand workforce development activities that serve youth ages 14-21 during “out of school” time (non-school hours).
 
Helping formerly incarcerated individuals successfully reenter their communities. Individuals who secure employment after release have much lower recidivism rates than those who do not. Good, stable jobs for the formerly incarcerated promote public safety and reduce violence. That is why the Administration is taking concrete steps to facilitate employment and associated services, such as housing assistance, for people who are formerly incarcerated. For example, in June 2021 the Department of Labor awarded $85.5 million to help formerly incarcerated adults and young people in 28 communities transition out of the criminal justice system and connect with quality jobs. The Department also awarded $25.5 million in Young Adult Reentry Partnership grants to organizations that will help provide education and training services to young adults between 18-24 who were previously involved with the justice system or who left high school before graduation. In addition, the President’s House-passed Build Back Better Act includes $1.5 billion for grants to help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully reenter their communities.
 
Supporting Survivors of Domestic Violence. Research shows that a male abusers’ access to a firearm increases the risk of intimate partner femicide by 1,000%. The COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis have increased the rates and risk for domestic violence nationwide.  For many women and children who experience abuse, home is not a safe place and there were increased barriers to accessing services and support. Last year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program, awarded nearly $1 billion in American Rescue Plan (ARP) supplemental funding to support services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and their children.

Biden Announces More Actions to Reduce Gun Crime, Calls on Congress to Fund Community Policing, Violence Intervention

President Joe Biden came to NYC to announce new initiatives to reduce gun crime and make communities safer. This plan builds on the steps the President has taken since the beginning of his Administration to stop the flow of guns being used in crimes, bolster federal, state, and local law enforcement, invest in community-based programs that prevent, interrupt, and reduce violence, expand opportunity, lower recidivism, and increase funding for community policing. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com via msnbc

People everywhere are complaining about the rise in violent crime, but have basically blocked the most effective way to reduce the epidemic of tragedy: sensible gun control. It is mind-blowing to hear the gun rights fanatics claim that there should be no limits whatsoever – that anyone anywhere should be able to carry a gun without a permit, without registration, without training or licensing. Yet they also claim to support police and “law and order” – when it is the “guns everywhere” that makes law enforcement so difficult, that makes police more likely than not to shoot an unarmed suspect because of an assumption they are armed. The gun rights fanatics claim there should be no restrictions whatsoever, yet voting rights are also part of the Constitution, and they have no qualms whatsoever about putting in major restrictions, onerous registration requirements, making polls and ballots hard to access. So now they are challenging New York State’s gun permit law and San Jose, California’s requirement that gun owners carry liability insurance, much as is required to own an automobile.

But as President Joe Biden noted, in coming to New York City to commiserate over the murder of two  police officers to announce new measures to combat gun violence, no “freedom” is absolute – not speech, press, assembly, religion. He challenges the law that insulates gun manufacturers from liability – the only industry in the country that has such protection – yet if manufacturers could be sued, they would respond immediately with smart gun technology, gun locks and gun storage. And importantly, he is marshaling the Department of Justice to be more aggressive in prosecuting gun trafficking and illegal guns, especially going after repeat offenders. He called upon states and localities to use COVID-19 relief funds to fund violence prevention initiatives, notably declaring that instead of “defunding police” he wants to put funds into crime prevention .

In the past, we have listed many of the commonsense gun control measures that should be implemented:

Second Amendment ‘Rights’ Used to Nullify First Amendment Rights, as SCOTUS Takes Up NYS Gun Law

Wear Orange for National Gun Violence Awareness But Demand Action

Biden Must Put Gun Violence Prevention on To-Do List for First 100 Days

Mitch “Grim Reaper” McConnell Dithers While Gun Deaths Mount Up. Here’s How to End Gun Violence Now

Here is a White House fact sheet of the additional actions that the Biden Administration is taking to reduce gun crime:

Today, the Biden Administration is announcing additional actions to reduce gun crime and make communities safer. This plan builds on the steps the President has taken since the beginning of his Administration to stop the flow of guns being used in crimes, bolster federal, state, and local law enforcement, invest in community-based programs that prevent, interrupt, and reduce violence, expand opportunity, lower recidivism, and increase funding for community policing.
 
The President is committed to serving as a strong partner for communities on the frontlines of the fight against crime. That’s why his American Rescue Plan gives cities and states historic levels of funding that they can use to put more cops on the beat, and invest in community-based violence prevention and intervention programs.
 
President Biden also recognizes the important role that federal law enforcement plays in supporting their local partners – especially in stopping the interstate flow of guns used in crimes, like the gun that was used in the tragic recent fatal shooting of two NYPD officers. The Department of Justice has launched five gun trafficking strike forces, including one in New York City, and it has implemented a nationwide strategy to combat violent crime, which has focused over the past year in taking violent criminals and thousands of crime guns off the streets.
 
Stronger law enforcement is critical in stopping gun crime, but it’s made more effective when we make real investments in making our communities stronger and in addressing the causes of crime before it spills over into violence. That’s why President Biden’s comprehensive approach makes sure cities and states have the funding, training, and know-how they need to invest in proven tactics including community policing, street outreach by credible messengers, hospital-based intervention, and youth programming. And it’s bolstered by additional funding to create economic opportunity with job training, expand after-school activities, and provide stable housing and other stabilizing supports necessary to reduce recidivism and help formerly incarcerated individuals reenter their communities. That’s also why the President continues to urge Congress to act on his $300 million budget request to more than double the size of the Department of Justice’s COPS community policing grant program.
 
Taken together, this strategy steps up and focuses law enforcement efforts on violent offenders, stems the trafficking of illegal guns, and makes real investments in communities to intervene in and prevent gun violence. The President knows a complex and devastating challenge like the surge of gun crime we’ve seen over the last two years requires an ambitious, evidence-based response that uses every tool at our disposal, and that’s exactly what his plan does.
 
The President’s Comprehensive Strategy to Reduce Gun Crime
 
Last June, President Biden announced a five-part, comprehensive strategy to tackle the persistent spike in gun crime cities across the country have experienced since the start of the pandemic. The President’s strategy:

  • Stems the flow of firearms used to commit violence,
  • Supports local law enforcement with federal tools and resources to address violent crime,
  • Invests in evidence-based community violence interventions,
  • Expands summer programming, employment opportunities, and other services and supports for teenagers and young adults, and
  • Helps formerly incarcerated individuals successfully reenter their communities.

 
New Actions to Implement the President’s Comprehensive Strategy
 
Surging Efforts to Enforce Our Gun Laws and Keep Guns out of Dangerous Hands
 
Today, the U.S. Department of Justice announced a set of important new actions to stem the flow of firearms used to commit violence and support local law enforcement partners in efforts to combat gun crime. The Justice Department will:

  • Prioritize combating violent crime by directing every U.S. Attorney’s Office nationwide to increase resources dedicated to district-specific violent crime strategies. The Justice Department will work with state and local law enforcement to address the most significant drivers of violence in each district, including to get repeat gun violence offenders off of our streets.  New York City’s Gun Violence Strategic Partnership – which the President and Attorney General will visit today with Mayor Eric Adams – is one model of the strategies Justice will help expand nationwide.
  • Crack down on the “Iron Pipeline” – the illegal flow of guns sold in the south, transported up the East Coast, and found at crime scenes in cities from Baltimore to New York City – and other firearms trafficking by adding personnel and other resources to strengthen the Justice Department’s multijurisdictional task forces that target interstate firearms trafficking.
  • Launch a National Ghost Gun Enforcement Initiative, which will train a national cadre of prosecutors and disseminate investigation and prosecution tools to help bring cases against those who use ghost guns to commit crimes.   
  • Pursue unlawful gun sellers that put firearms in the wrong hands by taking steps such as prioritizing federal prosecutions of those who criminally sell or transfer firearms that are used in violent crimes, including unlicensed dealers who sell guns to criminals without the required background checks. 

Read more about the Justice Department’s new actions here.
 
Providing States and Cities with the Resources They Need to Reduce Gun Crime
 
Today, the President is reaffirming his call for Congress to reach a bipartisan agreement on FY22 appropriations that include half a billion dollars in new funding for proven strategies we know will reduce gun crime: a $300 million increase to expand accountable community policing through the COPS Hiring Program and $200 million for evidence-based community violence interventions. Facing a spike in gun crime that has persisted since the start of the pandemic, cities across the country cannot wait any longer for Congress to provide the resources the President requested as part of his FY22 Budget to save lives.
 
Building on Progress: One Year of Action to Reduce Gun Violence
 
Below are a few highlights of the Administration’s work to implement the President’s comprehensive gun crime reduction strategy over the past seven months. You can read a full wrap-up of the Administration’s first year of gun violence prevention work here.
 
1. Stemming the flow of firearms used to commit violence. In June 2021, the Justice Department announced a new policy to underscore zero tolerance for certain willful violations of the law by federally licensed firearms dealers that put public safety at risk. In July, the Justice Department launched five new law enforcement strike forces focused on addressing significant firearms trafficking corridors that have diverted guns to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and Washington, D.C. Those strike forces have already opened more than 540 investigations and taken custody of almost 3,100 crime guns. Last year, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) issued a proposed rule to help curb the proliferation of “ghost guns,” which are unserialized, privately made firearms that are increasingly being recovered at crime scenes and have been identified by law enforcement officials as a serious threat to public safety.  ATF is analyzing public comments in response to the proposed rule, the next step in the regulatory process.
 
2. Supporting local law enforcement with federal tools and resources to address violent crime. The Biden Administration made historic levels of funding from the American Rescue Plan – $350 billion in state and local funding – available for law enforcement purposes such as hiring more officers, investing in retention strategies, and paying overtime to advancing community policing strategies in communities experiencing an increase in gun violence associated with the pandemic. Funds were also made available for prosecuting gun traffickers, rogue dealers, and other parties contributing to the supply of crime guns, as well as collaborative federal/state/local efforts to identify and address gun trafficking channels. Cities across the country, such as Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Syracuse, New York; and Mobile, Alabama, have responded to this call by committing and deploying ARP funds to community-oriented policing and other law enforcement strategies. In addition, as part of the Justice Department’s Comprehensive Strategy for Reducing Violent Crime, the Justice Department has supported law enforcement in local communities in addressing gun violence. In particular, the Justice Department has provided enforcement support from the ATF, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and United States Marshals Service (USMS). 
 
3. Investing in evidence-based community violence interventions. As part of his Build Back Better agenda, President Biden proposed $5 billion in funding for the Department of Justice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to invest in community violence interventions – evidence-based programs that are shown to help reduce violent crime. While working to secure this funding, the Biden Administration is using existing resources to expand community violence interventions. For example, the Biden Administration made certain American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding – $350 billion in state and local funding, and $122 billion in K-12 funding – available as unprecedented resources for CVI. Senior White House advisors also issued a memo to state and local officials outlining how these elected leaders not only can – but should – use ARP funds for CVI. Cities across the country, such as Seattle, Washington; Buffalo, New York; and Atlanta, Georgia – have responded to this call by committing and deploying ARP funds for CVI. In addition, five federal agencies made changes to 26 different programs to direct vital support to community violence intervention programs as quickly as possible. In July, senior White House staff established The White House Community Violence Intervention Collaborative, a 16-jurisdiction cohort of mayors, law enforcement, CVI experts, and philanthropic leaders committed to using American Rescue Plan funding or other public funding to increase investment in their community violence intervention infrastructure. The Collaborative is spending 18 months strengthening and scaling the jurisdictions’ community violence intervention infrastructure to reduce gun crime and promote public safety. National experts and federal agencies are providing training and technical assistance to help communities assess their existing public safety ecosystem, identify gaps, and build the capacity to expand programming that saves lives. 
 
4. Expanding summer programming, employment opportunities, and other services and supports for teenagers and young adults. The Biden Administration has made historic levels of funding from the American Rescue Plan  – $350 billion in state and local funding and $122 billion in school funding  – available for purposes such as hiring nurses, counselors, and social workers; providing court personnel and operations costs to return to pre-pandemic operation levels; providing and expanding employment services, including summer jobs for young people and programs that provide training and work experience for formerly incarcerated persons and other individuals who live in communities most impacted by high levels of violence; providing and expanding summer education and enrichment programs, including summer camp; and scaling up wraparound services, such as housing, medical and mental health care, trauma-informed care, substance use disorder treatment, food assistance, and job placement services, for victims of crime, young people, formerly incarcerated persons, and individuals and households facing economic insecurity due to the pandemic. Cities and counties across the country, including St. Louis, Missouri; Tucson, Arizona; and Los Angeles County, California, have responded to this call by committing and deploying ARP funds for these purposes.
 
5. Helping formerly incarcerated individuals successfully reenter their communities. On June 21 the Department of Labor awarded $85.5 million to help formerly incarcerated adults and young people in 28 communities transition out of the criminal justice system and connect with quality jobs. This included $60 million for Pathway Home projects serving adults, including beginning while participants are still incarcerated and continuing post-release, as well as $25.5 million in Young Adult Reentry Partnership grants to organizations serving young adults 18-24 who were previously involved with the justice system or who left high school before graduation. The President’s FY22 budget proposal calls for an increase in these grants, to $150 million, for reentry employment opportunities. The Treasury and Labor Departments has provided training and technical assistance to employers to help leverage multiple federal resources, including the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) and the federal bonding program to encourage employment of formerly incarcerated persons. In FY21, the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) provided more than $110 million in grant awards to support adults and youth returning to their communities after confinement. The President’s FY22 budget proposal calls for a $25 million increase for Second Chance Act programs, to further invest in diversion and substance abuse treatment programs, enhance reentry and rehabilitation efforts, and connect people with mental health services.
 
In addition, the President’s House-passed Build Back Better Act includes $1.5 billion for grants to help formerly incarcerated individuals secure good jobs and successfully reenter their communities. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will create hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs that formerly incarcerated individuals will be able to access. Lastly, in his Executive Order on Advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility President Biden directed the Office of Personnel Management to evaluate barriers to federal employment for formerly incarcerated persons and actions to reduce these barriers, including educating and partnering with agencies to leverage hiring authorities to bring formerly incarcerated individuals into federal government.
 

Biden Administration Details Ways Partnership with Nation’s Mayors Improved Lives, What Build Back Better Could Further Achieve

Since the start of his Administration, President Biden has prioritized local partnerships and has worked closely with mayors across the country who have been instrumental as trusted sources of information about the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines, and set up mass vaccination sites. As a result, in less than one year, over 200 million Americans have been vaccinated © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On the occasion of President Joe Biden’s address to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, January 21, the White House issued a fact sheet detailing some of the ways the Biden-Harris Administration is working with Mayors to deliver for communities across the country, and what passing the Build Back Better agenda could mean:
 
Getting Shots in Arms and Saving Lives
Since the start of his Administration, President Biden has prioritized local partnerships and has worked closely with mayors across the country who have been instrumental as trusted sources of information about the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines.
 
Working with local governments, the Administration has shipped over 160 million pieces of personal protective equipment – gloves, gowns, masks – to protect frontline health care workers in cities across the United States. Since first launching surge response teams on July 1st, the Administration has deployed over 3,000 personnel to 39 states and 4 U.S. territories. The Administration also recently worked with several mayors and local jurisdictions to surge federal testing support and federal test sites to several cities.
 
Over 115 mayors across the country joined the White House, HHS, and We Can Do This campaign to launch a Mayors Challenge to Increase COVID-19 Vaccinations. This campaign was instrumental in increasing the adult vaccination rate through mayors sharing best practices and launching innovative efforts to boost vaccinations, including grassroots outreach, mobile and neighborhood vaccine clinics, incentives, prizes, and other efforts.

  • Richmond, VA Mayor Levar Stoney as co-lead of the Mayors Challenge, launched the #HotVaccinatedSummer campaign with the Richmond Health Department focused on taking the vaccine to residents through mobile vaccination units, pop-up vaccine sites at grocery stores, food pantries, apartment complexes, and churches, and neighborhood block parties.
     
  • Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome and New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, mayors of Louisiana’s two largest cities, launched a month-long, inter-city “New Orleans vs Baton Rouge COVID challenge” to motivate citizens to get vaccinated.
     
  • Detroit, MI Mayor Mike Duggan launched an innovative “Good Neighbor Program” where residents received gift cards for driving their neighbors to get vaccinated, as well as a door-to-door vaccination education canvassing effort.
     
  • San Antonio, TX Mayor Ron Nirenberg along with making pop-up vaccine clinics accessible, collaborated with local artists to create murals reminding residents of the importance of getting vaccinated.

Getting People Back to Work
President Biden has grown the economy faster than any first-year administration ever with 6.4 million jobs added, the most in one year on record. The unemployment rate is 3.9% – four years faster than projected because of the American Rescue Plan. The Biden-Harris agenda has provided substantial resources to state and local governments to expand and improve America’s workforce development system so that workers of all kinds from diverse communities will be prepared and successful in good-paying union jobs.
 
The American Rescue Plan (ARP) included $350 billion in state and local fiscal recovery funds that governments can use to assist workers who want and are available to work – including job training, public jobs programs, job fairs, childcare, transportation, hiring bonuses, and subsidized employment efforts). The ARP also invested $3 billion in the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to assist communities in their efforts to build back better from the pandemic, including $1 billion for the Build Back Better Regional Challenge and $500 million for a Good Jobs Challenge that will support sector partnerships that bring employers, unions, non-profits, community colleges, training providers, and local governments together to enhance local training and hiring efforts.

  • Building Bridges to Infrastructure Jobs:
    • Washington, DC is using ARP resources to expand the city’s Infrastructure Academy to ensure a diverse workforce is ready to fill the infrastructure jobs that will be created by the historic bipartisan infrastructure law.
    • Milwaukee, WI has dedicated ARP funds to launch a lead abatement workforce development program and an Earn and Learn program which assists young people entering manufacturing and other high-skill jobs.
    • Phoenix, AZ is using Rescue Plan funds to partner with local community colleges and the private sector on job training programs that not only will re-skill and re-employ individuals for new careers in high demand workforce areas, such as manufacturing, construction, and the region’s emerging semiconductor industry.
       
  • Supporting our Essential Education Workers:
    • Seattle, WA used ARP fiscal recovery funds to provide premium pay for local child care workers, up to $835 per worker who have been there for at least 6 months.
       
  • Bolstering our Health Care Workforce:
    • Chicago, IL is leveraging ARP funds to build a 2,200 public health workforce working as vaccine ambassadors and addressing vaccine resistance.
    • New York City is dedicating ARP funds to bolster their public health workforce through the New York City Public Health Corps program, which will focus on a range of public health needs – from vaccine access, to primary care, to mental health counseling.

Building a Better America
Since President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden-Harris Administration has hit the ground running with a focus on fostering strong partnerships and working with mayors to implement the largest long-term investment in America’s infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century. The historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will rebuild crumbling road and bridges, replace lead pipes, help provide high-speed internet to every family in America, and produce concrete results that change people’s lives for the better. These results will create good-paying, union jobs, support domestic manufacturing and supply chains, and position the United States to win the 21st century. As the Administration implements the law, it is following through on President Biden’s commitment to ensure investments advance equity and racial justice, reach communities all across the country – including rural communities, communities of color, and disability communities – and strengthen the nation’s resilience to climate change. Since the enactment of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden Administration has it the ground running. Some of the key actions since the law’s passage include:

  • Understanding the importance of strong partnership with local governments to deliver results on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the White House appointed Mitch Landrieu, former Mayor of New Orleans and former President of the US Conference of Mayors, as Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator.
     
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced $27 billion in funding to replace, repair, and rehabilitate bridges across the country over the next five years, including many locally-owned “off system” bridges.
     
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will invest more than $14 billion of funding for over 500 projects across 52 states and territories. These key projects will strengthen the nation’s supply chain, provide significant new economic opportunities nationwide, and bolster our defenses against climate change.
     
  • USDOT awarded $1 billion in Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grants to invest in 90 major projects across 47 states funding that will be boosted by an additional $7.5 billion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
     
  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) at USDOT announced $3 billion for 3,075 airports across the country that can use investments to upgrade critical infrastructure.
     
  • The Vice President announced the Administration’s Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan, which includes action items focused on collaboration with local partners to accelerate the replacement of lead pipes over the next decade. As part of this plan, EPA announced $7.4 billion in funding allocations for states to upgrade America’s aging water infrastructure, sewerage systems, pipes and service lines, and more.
     
  • The Federal Communications Commission launched the Affordable Connectivity Program providing broadband subsidies of up to $30/month for low-income households (up to $75/month for households on Tribal Lands) and up to $100 towards the purchase of a desktop, laptop or tablet computer.
     
  • EPA announced $1 billion in funding to clean up 49 Superfund sites across 24 states to accelerate cleanup at dozens of other sites across the country, stop toxic waste from harming communities, and create good-paying jobs.
     
  • The Department of the Interior released initial guidance for the states interested in applying for funding to cap and plug orphaned oil and gas wells that reduce methane emissions and create jobs, with 26 states expressing interest in a portion of the $4.7 billion in funding for well plugging, remediation and restoration available in infrastructure programs.
     
  • The Department of Energy launched a new Building a Better Grid initiative to accelerate the deployment of new transition lines, and it released a notice of intent to inform the design and implementation of this historic investment.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes billions of dollars in competitive funding available to cities, towns, and municipalities across dozens of new and existing programs. As local governments begin to rebuild and reinvest in their communities, the Biden-Harris Administration stands ready to support local leaders as they combine funding streams, organize around their priorities, and build local support for long overdue infrastructure projects. The White House released a fact sheet highlights 25 already available or soon-to-be-available sources of funding that local governments – particularly cities – can compete or apply for directly. The White House will also be releasing a comprehensive guidebook of all available funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in the coming weeks.
 
Addressing Supply Chain Blockages
As our economy has turned back on from the unprecedented shutdown resulting from the pandemic, our supply chains have been strained. The Administration is working closely with  mayors and local governments across the country to mitigate supply chain blockages and ensure shelves are stocked.

  • The Administration’s port envoy has held weekly meetings with city-owned ports, including the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, to identify ways to reduce congestion and move toward 24/7 operations, which reduces the emissions and traffic in communities.
     
  • The Department of Transportation awarded more than $241 million in discretionary grants to improve ports facilities and address supply chain disruptions in 19 cities, including Houston, TX; Brunswick, GA; Bay St Louis, MS; Tell City, IN; Alpena, MI; Delcambre, LA; Oakland, CA; Portsmouth, VA; Tacoma, WA; and Long Beach, CA.
     
  • The Administration is working to help schools experiencing challenges purchasing and reliably obtaining food for their meal plans. USDA has committed $1.5 billion for schools and states to purchase foods including funding to purchase local foods from historically underserved producers and announced an adjustment in school meal reimbursements that put an estimated $750 million more into school meal programs across the nation this year.

Advancing Local Climate Action
On Day One, President Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement, reestablished U.S. leadership, and renewed the federal government’s partnership with the states, cities, Tribes, and localities that carried forward America’s progress on climate. Since then, President Biden has deployed clean wind and solar energy across the country, jumpstarted an electric vehicle future that will be built in America, advanced environmental justice in underserved communities, and taken aggressive action to make our country more resilient to climate change and extreme weather.
 
Today, President Biden will announce how the Biden-Harris Administration is teaming up with states, cities, labor, and industry to launch the Building Performance Standards Coalition, a first-of-its-kind partnership between 33 state and local governments dedicated to delivering cleaner, healthier, and more affordable buildings. States and cities part of the coalition will design and implement building performance standards that create good paying union jobs, lower the cost of energy bills for consumers, keep residents and workers safe from harmful pollution, and cut emissions from the building sector.
 
The Administration is also empowering local leaders to advance climate solutions across other sectors—for example:

  • The Department of Energy set a new National Community Solar Partnership target of powering 5 million homes by 2025, with on-demand technical assistance available to local governments, and launched the SolarAPP+ tool to help them speed up permitting of rooftop solar installations.
     
  • The Department of Transportation announced $182 million in grants for transit agencies to deploy zero-emission and low-emission transit buses, including awards to the Chicago Transit Authority; Anaheim, CA; Fort Collins, CO; Lawrence, KS; Jackson, MS; Fayetteville, NC; Lincoln, NE; Norman, OK; and more.
     
  • The EPA announced $50 million for environmental justice initiatives using ARP funds, including water infrastructure job training in Baltimore, MD; indoor air quality improvements in Fort Collins, CO; and outreach on asthma and environmental hazards in Hartford, CT. 
     
  • FEMA announced $1 billion for the FY2021 Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program, available for cities and other levels of government to proactively invest in community resilience to hurricanes, wildfires, and other disasters.
     
  • In November 2021, President Biden and 15 bipartisan mayors representing communities across the country participated in COP26, where the President announced bold plans to reduce methane emissions, create clean energy jobs, and build back better with infrastructure initiatives that advance prosperity and combat the climate crisis.

Addressing Gun Violence and Crime
During the President’s first year in office, the Biden-Harris Administration has partnered with mayors across the country on actions to reduce gun violence and has provided historic levels of funding for community-oriented policing and expanding community violence interventions (CVI) – neighborhood-based programs proven to combat gun violence. The Administration has made historic levels of funding from the American Rescue Plan – including $350 billion in state and local funding – available to state and local governments for law enforcement purposes to advance community policing strategies and community violence interventions.

  • Working with 16-jurisdictions, the White House launched the Community Violence Intervention Collaborative, a cohort of mayors, law enforcement, CVI experts and philanthropic organizations committed to using ARP funding to increase investment in their community violence intervention infrastructure and share best practices. 
     
  • Cities including Milwaukee, WI; Albuquerque, NM; Syracuse, NY; and Mobile, AL responded to the President’s call by committing and deploying ARP funds for advancing community-oriented policing.
  • Mayors from cities across the country including Seattle, WA; Buffalo, NY; and Atlanta, GA have committed to deploy ARP fund for community violence interventions following a memo from Senior White House advisors on how state and local officials can implement ARP funding into CVI work.
     
  • Cities across the country including St. Louis, MO and Tucson, AZ committed to investing ARP funding in public safety strategies such as summer jobs for young adults and substance abuse and mental health services.

Prevent Housing Instability and Homelessness
During the President’s first year in office, the Biden-Harris Administration partnered with mayors across the country to keep Americans housed. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) included over $21 billion for the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program. These funds, together with $25 billion signed into law under the previous Administration but implemented under this Administration, enabled households to catch up on rent and avoid evictions. State and local grantees obligated over $25 billion in ERA in 2021, and these funds contributed to a historically low eviction filing rate. Also included within ARP were $5 billion in supplemental funding for HOME, which enables state and local governments to create and preserve affordable housing, and $5 billion in emergency housing vouchers to help people experiencing and at risk of homelessness secure housing.

  • In June, 46 cities joined the White House to create eviction prevention action plans as part of a first-of-its-kind summit. More than 100 eviction diversion programs were created or expanded as part of this partnership with the White House and local leaders.
     
  • Mayors from Louisville, Milwaukee, San Antonio, and Boston shared best practices in subsequent White House events including strategies to prevent evictions and distribute rental assistance to renters and landlords in need.
     
  • Dozens of mayors have signed onto House America, a federal initiative aimed at maximizing the ARP resources to address homelessness. The goal of this initiative is to cumulatively re-house 100,000 households experiencing homelessness and add 20,000 new units of affordable housing into the development pipeline by the end of 2022.

Building an Orderly, Fair, and Humane Immigration System
The Biden-Harris Administration is working to build a humane, orderly, and fair 21st century immigration system at the border and beyond. One that invests in smart technology and infrastructure at the border, that prioritizes our resources and values immigrants living in our country and contributing to our communities for generations, and that once again welcomes refugees and is a beacon of light for those seeking safe haven.
 
Since day one, the Biden-Harris Administration took steps to undo the wrongdoings of the previous Administration, including getting rid of the Muslim ban, taking steps to protect DACA recipients, and restoring our asylum system. On day one, President Biden also sent his immigration bill to Congress – The U.S. Citizenship Act – which laid out the components needed to build an updated immigration system that reflects our values and responds to our hemisphere’s current needs.
 
Working with the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State and non-profit organizations in Mexico and the United States, the Administration assisted 13,000 people in the wind down of the Migrant Protection Protocol to fight their cases in the United States. The Administration also designated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haiti, Venezuela, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, and Burma, and expanded to El Salvador and Honduras.
 
The President tasked Vice President Harris with leading efforts to address the root causes of migration from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. The Vice President announced $310 million in urgent humanitarian relief in April 2021, in addition to the President’s FY22 budget request for $861 million for Central America. The Vice President also secured $1.2 billion from the private sector to create job programs and invest in the economic stability and prosperity for our partner countries. In addition to the work the Vice President is leading, the Administration is working with countries in South America and leaders in the hemisphere to address migration as a regional issue that necessitates regional leadership and a regional response.
 
The Administration remains committed to immigration reform, to restoring asylum, and to working with partners to ensure the safety, security, and dignity of immigrants in the region:

  • Engaged mayors and cities to amplify the broad sweeping impact President Biden’s U.S. Citizenship Act would have on all 11 million undocumented immigrants, including farm workers and individuals with Temporary Protected Status.
  • Partnered with cities including San Diego, Long Beach, Pomona, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio to stand up Emergency Influx Sites to provide temporary shelter and care for thousands of unaccompanied children.
     
  • Awarded $110 million in supplemental humanitarian funding to the National Board for Emergency Food and Shelter Program eligible to cities and services providers providing humanitarian assistance to migrants at the southern border.
     
  • Regularly engaged bipartisan border mayors to discuss and coordinate rebuilding America’s border management and asylum systems that were previously gutted by the prior administration. Additionally, engaged local elected leaders in the Rio Grande Valley, San Diego, and El Centro border sectors to protect border communities from the physical dangers resulting from the previous administration’s approach to border wall construction.

Welcoming Refugees and Resettlement Efforts
The Biden-Harris Administration has taken a whole-of-America approach to safely, securely, and effectively welcome more than 76,000 Afghan allies to the United States through the Operation Allies Welcome.
 
In close coordination with Departments and Agencies across the Federal government, the Administration has worked with state and local officials; refugee resettlement organizations; veterans; faith, private sector, and non-profit leaders to ensure Afghans are set up for success in their new communities. The White House Operation Allies Welcome team provided briefings to USCM and visited resettlement sites in six states to engage with local officials and stakeholders on the frontlines of welcoming our Afghan allies. In his capacity as OAW Coordinator, Jack Markell attended the 2021 USCM Summer Meeting in Dayton, Ohio to brief mayors on their important role in the resettlement effort.

  • USCM Past President Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin led the effort for USCM’s resolution in support of Afghan resettlement and welcomed briefings from senior Administration officials to keep mayors updated on resettlement efforts
     
  • Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner worked with local resettlement agencies to raise more than $8.5 million dollars for the Houston Afghan Resettlement Fund (HARF) to help the local resettlement agencies provide additional services for Afghan evacuees
     
  • Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt collaborated with the local resettlement agency to identify additional funding stream to for affordable housing for Afghan evacuees
     
  • Lansing Mayor Andy Schor worked with the local school district to ensure a warm welcome to arriving Afghans students and families.
     

Sacramento Mayor Darryl Steinberg coordinated with state, county, and local leaders to create a new coalition called the American Network of Services for Afghanistan Refugees (ANSAR) to assist in meeting the needs of Afghan families.

In addition to President Biden, ten members of the President’s Cabinet spoke at the USCM Winter Meeting, including Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and EPA Administrator Regan. Senior Administration officials including ARP Coordinator Gene Sperling, Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator Mitch Landrieu, and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Julie Rodriguez will also speak at the event.

Justice Department Announces New Rule to Enhance Safe Storage of Firearms

The March for Our Lives protest in Washington DC after the Parkland massacre by a former student. Despite this and other protests after school shootings, Congress has refused to do anything and states including Texas have made it easier to obtain guns, while the Supreme Court is considering overturning New York State’s gun restriction © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

BREAKING: A one-year-old child accidentally shoots their three-month-old sibling and mother at a Walmart in Texas after finding a gun concealed beneath the seat of the family vehicle. RT IF YOU THINK THIS MADNESS MUST BE STOPPED WITH NEW GUN LAWS! Occupy Democrats @OccupyDemocrats 7:08 PM · Jan 5, 2022

The Department of Justice is issuing a new rule to promote safe and secure storage of firearms, which would go a long way to reduce school shootings, for example, where an under-age person gets access to a gun. But the federal government should also use its purchasing power and rule making to require all guns purchased by the federal government (for military, law enforcement) be smart-guns that can only be used by the registered owner, which would make smart guns the norm.–Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice today announced a new rule to help enable the safe and secure storage of firearms and published a Best Practices Guide for federal firearms licensees (FFLs). This new rule implements the existing Gun Control Act requirement that federal firearms licensees that sell firearms to the general public (non-licensees) must certify that they have available secure gun storage or safety devices. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Best Practices Guide for FFLs is an important resource and reference guide about federal laws and regulations.

“Today’s announcements build on the department’s efforts to reduce the risk of firearms falling into the wrong hands,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Gun safety is a Department of Justice priority, and we will continue to take all appropriate steps to help reduce the number of people killed and injured by the misuse of firearms.”

The Department of Justice has submitted to the Federal Register for publication a final rule, which will take effect Feb. 3, requiring FFLs to certify that they have secure gun storage devices available to their customers for purchase. Secure gun storage or safety device, as defined by statute and regulation, includes a safe, gun safe, gun case, lock box or other device that is designed to be or can be used to store a firearm and that is designed to be unlocked only by means of a key, a combination or other similar means. Not all devices are compatible with varying types of firearms. Therefore, integral to the new rule is the requirement that FFLs have available secure gun storage options that are compatible with the firearms they are selling.

The final rule, published in the electronic reading room today, can be viewed here: https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection/2021-28398/secure-gun-storage-and-definition-of-antique-firearm

In addition, today, the ATF published a Best Practices Guide for FFLs. The ATF’s Best Practices Guide is designed to assist FFLs in complying with all required firearm laws and regulations that are designed to ensure public safety and the traceability of firearms.

The Best Practices Guide also encourages FFLs to provide customers with ATF publications to help firearms owners better understand their legal obligations, as well as practical steps they can take to help keep firearms out of the hands of prohibited persons and facilitate the safe storage of firearms. Links to ATF publications addressing the following topics are included in the Best Practices Guide: procedures for FFLs to assist unlicensed firearms owners in conducting background checks for private party transfers; compliance with the Youth Handgun Safety Act; records firearms owners should maintain that can assist law enforcement if the owner’s firearms are ever lost or stolen; and the legal consequences and public safety dangers of straw purchasing – which involves purchasing a gun for someone who is prohibited by law from possessing one or for someone who does not want his or her name associated with the transaction. To view ATF’s Best Practices Guide, see: https://www.atf.gov/firearms/federal-firearms-licensee-quick-reference-and-best-practices-guide

New York Governor Hochul Signs into Law Nation’s Toughest Restrictions on Ghost Guns

From left to right: Jacob Dixon; CEO of Choice For All, Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, Linda Beigel Schulman, Senator Brad Hoylman, Governor Kathy Hochul, Senator Kevin Thomas, Senator Anna Kaplan, Senator John Brooks, Assemblywoman Taylor Darling © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features, news-photos-features.com

WESTBURY, NY (October 28, 2021) – Today, Governor Kathy Hochul signed landmark legislation to crack down on “ghost guns,” untraceable firearms used by criminals to evade background checks. The move follows action by the New York State Senate and Assembly, who passed the legislation in June, 2021. Together, The Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act (S.13a), sponsored by Senator Anna M. Kaplan (D-North Hills) and Assemblymember Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove), and The Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act (S.14a), sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman (D/WFP-Manhattan) and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan), create the strongest protections from these dangerous weapons in the nation.

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul: “gun violence is a public health and public safety crisis that must be dealt with aggressively.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Gun violence is a public health and public safety crisis that must be dealt with aggressively,” said Governor Hochul. “Working with partners at all levels, my administration will continue to crack down on the distribution and possession of dangerous weapons and put an end to the gun violence epidemic.”

“If you can’t pass a background check to get a gun, then you shouldn’t be able to get a gun–period. For too long, the unfinished receiver loophole let anyone get their hands on all the parts needed to build an untraceable, unregistered AR-15 without ever going through a background check, but today, we’re taking historic action here in New York to close that dangerous loophole for good” said State Senator Anna M. Kaplan. 

“If you can’t pass a background check to get a gun, then you shouldn’t be able to get a gun—period,” said State Senator Anna Kaplan © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“I’m proud to be the sponsor of the Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act because I know it’s going to save lives, just like Scott Beigel did when he gave his life to protect his students from gunfire during the attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. I’m grateful for my partners in this effort, Governor Kathy Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Chuck Lavine, and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, each of whom have shown extraordinary leadership to make sure our state is combating the scourge of gun violence. And most importantly, I want to thank Scott Beigel’s parents Linda and Michael, for never giving up the fight to ensure that our communities are safe from gun violence.” 

State Senator Brad Hoylman: “In the last three years, we’ve seen a 479% increase in ghost gun seizures across the state. Thanks to the Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act being signed today we’re addressing this growing problem by banning the sale and possession of ghost guns, so nobody will be able to purchase these firearms without first passing a background check.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

State Senator Brad Hoylman said: “In the last three years, we’ve seen a 479% increase in ghost gun seizures across the state. Thanks to the Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act being signed today we’re addressing this growing problem by banning the sale and possession of ghost guns, so nobody will be able to purchase these firearms without first passing a background check. I’m deeply grateful for the advocacy and support of Jose Webster’s sister, Nathalie Arzu, along with Assembly Member Rosenthal, Senator Kaplan, Assembly Member Levine, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Governor Hochul for their leadership on this important issue.”

During the COVID-19 crisis, gun violence has spiked; so have sales of firearms and ghost guns. At the beginning of the pandemic, gun manufacturers reported massive sales of ghost gun kits; at least 16 manufacturers told customers they were experiencing shipping delays due to a high volume of orders. 

Ghost guns continue to pose a threat, both in New York and nationwide. Last week, a Queens man who had been ordering gun parts online was caught with an arsenal of do-it-yourself “ghost guns”ProPublica reported that the “Boogaloo Boys,” a right-wing militia group involved with the January 6 Capitol riots, have embraced ghost guns as one of their preferred weapons.

“The Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act”, sponsored by Senator Anna M. Kaplan and Assemblymember Charles Lavine, specifically addresses the proliferation of “unfinished receivers” or “80% Receivers” which can be purchased online without a background check and which are easily converted into operable firearms by people with limited skills. The legislation:

  • Defines what constitutes an unfinished frame or receiver
  • Makes possession of an unfinished frame or receiver by anyone other than a licensed gunsmith or dealer illegal
  • Prohibits the possession of major components of a firearm, rifle, or shotgun by persons who are otherwise lawfully prohibited from possessing such weapons
  • Makes it illegal to sell or transfer an unfinished frame or receiver to anyone other than a licensed gunsmith or dealer
Assemblymember Charles Lavine. “It is incumbent upon the states to enact common-sense reforms that close dangerous loopholes that allow untraceable weapons to flood our communities.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Amidst an epidemic of gun violence plaguing the United States, I commend my good friend Governor Kathy Hochul for supporting and signing this bill which I sponsored in the Assembly,” said Assemblymember Charles Lavine. “It is incumbent upon the states to enact common-sense reforms that close dangerous loopholes that allow untraceable weapons to flood our communities.  This new law further strengthens New York’s existing gun safety laws, already among the toughest in the country.  It also significantly increases protection to our community and our children by creating much more accountability.  It is intended, just as Scott intended, to save lives.” 

Senator Kaplan and Assemblymember Lavine’s legislation is named in memory of Scott J. Beigel, the hero teacher of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who lost his life during the shooting over three years ago while shielding his students from gunfire. Beigel’s parents, Linda Beigel Schulman and Michael Schulman of Long Island, are nationally recognized advocates in the fight against gun violence. 

Linda Beigel Schulman has put her grief at losing her son Scott, a teacher who died protecting his students at Parkland, into unceasing activism to prevent gun violence. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Speaking to the crowded room  at the “Yes We Can” community center in Westbury, Long Island, Linda Beigel Schulman reflected back to Feb 13, 2018, when she spoke to Scott, exchanged, “I love yous” and “Have a good rest of today. I’ll speak to you tomorrow.” “He walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and gave his last breath after saving lives. A 19 year old shot him 16 times with an AR15 assault rifle. I made a vow to myself and my son to do everything to end gun violence…Nothing will bring Scott back, but these new laws today will save lives.”

“The Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act” sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, prohibits the sale and possession of unregistered ghost guns and ensures law enforcement will be able to track the manufacture and sale of all guns in New York. The legislation:

  • Defines a “ghost gun” as any firearm, rifle, or shotgun that isn’t serialized and registered in accordance with either state or federal law
  • Prohibits the possession of ghost guns by anyone but a licensed gunsmith
  • Prohibits the sale of ghost guns entirely
  • Prohibits the manufacture or assembly of a firearm, rifle, or shotgun by anyone other than a licensed gunsmith
  • Requires New York gunsmiths to serialize all firearms, rifles, shotguns, or unfinished frames or receivers they manufacture or assemble, and to register any such gun, or unfinished frame or receiver that isn’t otherwise covered by federal serialization law with the Division of State Police
“Ghost guns have exploded in popularity as people have taken to the internet to evade New York’s strong laws requiring background checks and licensing, to gain access to deadly weapons they can construct in the comfort and privacy of their own homes,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Ghost guns have exploded in popularity as people have taken to the internet to evade New York’s strong laws requiring background checks and licensing, to gain access to deadly weapons they can construct in the comfort and privacy of their own homes,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “Closing the ghost gun loophole by signing the Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act, along with the Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receivers Act, will help to keep our communities safe. Thank you to Governor Hochul for signing these bills into law. I look forward to working with the Executive to passing more legislation to keep New Yorkers safe from gun violence in the future.”

Senator Hoylman and Assemblymember Rosenthal’s legislation is named in memory of Jose Webster, a young man from The Bronx killed by gun violence in 2011. Webster’s sister, Nathalie Arzu, has become a gun violence prevention advocate.

The Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act, S.13a, will take effect in 180 days. Individuals who currently possess an unfinished frame or receiver as defined in the new law have 360 days from today to either voluntarily surrender the unfinished frame or receiver to authorized law enforcement officials, or bring the piece into compliance with the law regarding serialization and registration. 

The Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act, S.14a, will take effect in 180 days. There is a six month grace period to turn in ghost guns or have them registered and serialized.

Legislation S.7152/A.6522 adds firearms capable of being concealed and designed to resemble toys to the definition of a ‘disguised gun’ and prohibits their manufacture, design, or sale. Weapons capable of causing severe injury and death but that resemble toys are unjustifiably deceptive, and pose a clear threat to the safety of both children, who may mistake them for actual toys, and the public at large. 

State Senator John Brooks:No one should live in fear of gun violence, not when walking down the street, serving our communities in law enforcement, while learning at schools, spending time at home, or anywhere else.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The gun violence epidemic has stolen the lives of so many in our state and country, and we have only seen the problem grow worse in recent years,” said Senator John Brooks. “Common sense measures like this legislation to crackdown on disguised guns are critical to protecting New Yorkers. No one should live in fear of gun violence, not when walking down the street, serving our communities in law enforcement, while learning at schools, spending time at home, or anywhere else. I am thankful to local law enforcement for the support they provided in getting this bipartisan bill passed and I applaud Governor Hochul for her continued effort to keep New Yorkers safe.” 

“I am proud to sponsor this critically important legislation that will prohibit the design, manufacture and possession of disguised guns in New York State,” said Assemblymember Steve Stern. “These weapons put our law enforcement personnel at a dangerous disadvantage in situations when they are facing down the barrel of a gun and have a split second to decide if it is a toy or a real weapon, a split second that could make the difference between life or death. This legis will protect our entire community and save lives.  I thank my colleagues in the Legislature for their bi-partisan support of this legislation and applaud Governor Hochul’s strong leadership on this important issue.”

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran: “Nassau County is rated the safest community in America for two years in a row. But I won’t rest until everyone in county feels it is the safest.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, speaking directly to Linda Biegel Schulman and husband Michael: “I know your story, your pain, and the fact you are out everyday to fight for common sense gun laws is inspiring. Nassau County is rated the safest community in America for two years in a row. But I won’t rest until everyone in county feels it is the safest.”

A moment between Linda Beigel Schulman and Governor Kathy Hochul after the signing of gun violence prevention bills aimed at restricting ghost guns © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Hochul added, “it is nothing short of extraordinary – so many affected. To have lost someone you treasured, when you lose a child, it is more than heartbreak, it is a permanent mark on your soul. So many retreat in pain, suffer in silence. It takes an extraordinary person to say, I won’t suffer in silence.

“This is a new era of collaboration, we are changing things. What we accomplished solidifies New York as having the toughest gun laws in the nation.”

Gun violence prevention activists from Moms Demand Action © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

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© 2021 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

DoJ Forms Firearms Trafficking Strike Forces to Crack Down on Sources of Guns Used to Commit Crimes

President Joe Biden, standing with Vice President Kamala Harris and Attorney General Merrick Garland on April 8, 2021, declared, “gun violence in the US is an epidemic.” Since then, he has implemented a number of gun violence prevention initiatives. Today, the Department of Justice announced it will launch five cross-jurisdictional firearms trafficking strike forces within the next 30 days to help reduce violent crime by addressing illegal gun trafficking in significant firearms trafficking corridors. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of Justice announced it will launch five cross-jurisdictional firearms trafficking strike forces within the next 30 days to help reduce violent crime by addressing illegal gun trafficking in significant firearms trafficking corridors. Tomorrow, the Attorney General will discuss with the President, law enforcement officials, and local and community leaders, this initiative, which, along with other measures, the Department of Justice is undertaking as part of the administration-wide comprehensive strategy to combat the rise in violent crime. 

Gun violence is a major driver in the increase in violent crime over the last 18 months, and today’s action is an important step in stemming the supply of illegally trafficked firearms which are used in deadly shootings and other violent crimes.

“Working with our local partners to tackle violent crime is one of the Justice Department’s most important responsibilities,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Today, the department is taking another concrete step to address violent crime and illegal firearms trafficking. Our firearms trafficking strike forces will investigate and disrupt the networks that channel crime guns into our communities with tragic consequences. This effort reflects our shared commitment to keep communities safe.”

The five strike forces will focus on significant firearms trafficking corridors that channel guns into New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington, D.C. They will be led by designated U.S. Attorneys who will coordinate with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and with state and local law enforcement partners in places where firearms originate and where they are used to commit crimes. The strike forces will share information and otherwise collaborate across districts where firearms trafficking schemes cross state or jurisdictional boundaries to focus enforcement against entire trafficking networks, from the places where guns are unlawfully obtained to the areas where they are used to commit violent crimes.

At an event today hosted by the Police Executive Research Forum, attended by hundreds of law enforcement professionals from around the country, the Deputy Attorney General spoke about the strike force launch, emphasizing the department’s commitment to working closely with state, local, tribal and territorial law enforcement partners as part of a comprehensive approach to reduce crime and make our communities safer.

Today’s announcement builds on the Justice Department’s broader Violent Crime Reduction Initiative, announced on May 26, 2021, that supports local communities in preventing, investigating and prosecuting gun violence and other violent crime. In guidance to federal agents and prosecutors as part of that comprehensive strategy, the Deputy Attorney General made clear that firearms traffickers that provide weapons to violent offenders are an enforcement priority across the country.